New York has been all smiles this month, and they have good reasons.
The second month of the NBA season has come and gone, and for the New York Knicks, it was a similar conclusion as November. The Knickerbockers sit atop the Atlantic Division with a 21-9 record, and they're sitting pretty with the NBA's elite—currently ranked sixth in terms of best records.
Of course, Carmelo Anthony has had an incredible December, but there are also guys like Jason Kidd and J.R. Smith that contributed heavily to the team and getting them to where they are, especially with the surplus of injuries that have been dealt to New York.
Both Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd have been the floor generals this season, and they've done an incredible job. Not to mention, Tyson Chandler's defense and new-found offense has New York looking like a force that can compete with Eastern powerhouses, specifically last year's champion Miami Heat.
With December in the books though, can New York's players continue playing at a high level?
James White hasn't given us much to talk about this season, and in the time he's been on the floor, he hasn't really produced.
White has played in 11 games during the month of December in which he has averaged 8.4 minutes a game.
We haven't seen the "high-flying" White that fans have heard so much about, but he has managed 1.9 points in those eight minutes.
His highlight of the month came during the game at Miami against the Heat. In this game, White scored seven points on 3-3 shooting.
What the guard does provide though is lock-down defense, but we'll probably see even less of him when Iman Shumpert comes back. The plethora of guards ahead of White includes Shumpert, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith and Ronnie Brewer.
Unless New York face injuries to at least three of their guards, December might be as good as it gets for James "Flight" White.
Unfortunately, Marcus Camby hasn't lived up to the hype that few people believed anyway.
Camby was brought to be the backup to Tyson Chandler that the New York Knicks lacked last season, but he has instead been plagued by injury after injury.
The Knicks' big man was limited to just three games in December, but he's showed fans some promise. He appeared to be getting closer to top-shape, and as the season progresses we can expect Camby to earn that hefty paycheck.
He averaged 3.3 points per game in the winter month, and he also managed to grab five boards per contest—two of which were offensive rebounds, something New York needed coming into this season.
The highlight of his month came against the Phoenix Suns. In this game, Camby played 13 minutes and grabbed nine rebounds!
That's the kind of production New York had hoped for when they signed Marcus during the offseason.
Kurt Thomas wasn't brought over to New York to make a huge impact, but to fill in for garbage minutes. It's safe to say that he's lived up to his expectations—the very little suppositions that were made for him.
At the beginning of the month, Thomas was filling in as a backup power forward to give Carmelo Anthony a rest, but injuries have forced Coach Woodson to pencil Kurt into the starting rotation.
He's played in 13 games in the month of December, and in that month he's averaged 11.2 minutes—totally acceptable for the 40-year-old.
It wasn't until the third week of December that Thomas saw back-to-back games with double digit minutes on the floor.
With his playing time increasing, Thomas has scored 2.8 points per game and pulled down 2.9 rebounds.
The best game I've seen from the power forward came against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas day. Thomas went 3-3 from the field in 13 minutes scoring six points. His jumper was on point, and he looked like if he kept looking for that shot it would still be there.
For an older veteran, December was a very active month for Kurt Thomas, and Woodson might still have to call on him during the new year.
Pablo Prigioni, the 35-year-old rookie out of Argentina—hasn't seen significant minutes nor has he had a major impact on his team, especially in the last month.
In December, Prigioni averaged 12 minutes a game, but that's sure to increase with Raymond Felton being out and Pablo essentially moving toward second-string.
With that being the case, the point guard's 3.0 points per game and 2.5 assists average will definitely spike, especially if he sees time with that first unit.
Pablo is still struggling to find his niche in the NBA, and it appears you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Fans should just get used to him looking for the pass instead of taking the shot.
The one game that contradicted this would be when the Houston Rockets came to town on December 17. In this game, Pablo scored 14 points on 50 percent shooting, including 2-6 from three-point land.
It's obvious that Prigioni has a lot to offer this franchise. However, he's going to need to showcase that immediately if the Knicks are going to continue to progress into January.
Ronnie Brewer's defense is what gets him so much praise—and listed ahead of the other guys here—but other than that, he's just an average athlete.
His long arms allow him to wreak havoc on whoever he's guarding, and he's a pesky defender because of that, but offensively, Brewer doesn't have much going for him.
Brewer's got one of the most awkward forms I've seen, and that could be a major factor in why he's never been an offensive player, so it's important that fans don't expect too much from him.
In November, the versatile Brewer shot 41 percent from behind the arc. That number decreased drastically in December as he posted a 15 percent success rate from three-point land.
He logged 17.5 minutes per game in the month of December, and in those 15 games, he averaged a mere 2.8 points and 2.5 rebounds.
Ronnie's big game came at the beginning of the month in that thriller against the Charlotte Bobcats on December 5. In this game, Brewer had nine points and five boards in just 18 minutes of play.
Hopefully Ronnie can time travel back to November when he was a more successful player, because December is a month to forget.
Steve Novak isn't playing like the same guy that fans became accustomed to watching last season. In fact, he had to overcome a slump coming from November.
Unfortunately, the month of December did not bring good tidings for Novakane.
While his three-point percentage—45 percent—increased from the previous month, it's still not up to the standards Novak set last year—48 percent.
The one game that stood out to me in December came against the team that essentially shut him down last season...the Miami Heat.
In the game on December 6, Novak went off for 18 points on 7-13 shooting. This was the most comfortable I had seen Novak all season, and now with the month in the books, Novak hasn't been able to replicate that performance.
It appears that he's just having difficulty finding his shot. Don't get me wrong, he'll knock down that open jumper from the corner, but with defenders draped all over him, he's just not finding the success that he once had.
In the 26.7 minutes per game that he logged last month, Novak only scored 7.3 points. In comparison to last season, his highest averaged minutes logged came during the month of February—20.5 minutes per game—and during that time he scored nearly four more points than he does now.
Novak has to put these last two months behind him and channel his inner self, fans want to see some discount double checking!
December has been an extremely good month for Knicks forward Chris Copeland. As a result of injuries to others, his minutes have skyrocketed. Copeland averaged 20.4 minutes per game, and boy did he showcase his talents in that time.
Coach Woodson has showed some faith in Copeland—not like he's had much choice lately—putting in the big man to either cushion a lead or attempt to cut a deficit.
He's averaging 12.9 points per game on 57 percent shooting from the field during the month of December.
We saw what Copeland is really capable of on December 17 when New York welcomed a Houston Rocket team that had already pulverized them. In this game, Copeland looked like a combination of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire going for 29 points, five rebounds and two steals.
Not much was expected of Copeland coming into this season. However, with all the injuries he's going to see more playing time, and the kid deserves every minute of it considering what he did in December.
Those that criticized the Raymond Felton acquisition should be silenced by now. His production has been increasing since the first game back with New York, and for the month of December, Felton showed he was the real deal.
As New York's point guard, Felton has led the team to a 9-4 record for the month of December—he missed the last two games due to a finger injury that will likely shelve him for the next month.
In his 13 games throughout the course of the month, Felton averaged 17.2 points per game along with 5.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds.
On December 15, Felton led his Knicks to a one-point victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. In this game, Ray scored 25 points to go with his seven assists and five rebounds.
That's not his only 20-point performance of the month; he had five of those coming against the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls.
Oh yeah, he did it twice against Chicago!
Being in New York, Ray understood the spotlight would be on him, especially as the floor general of this Knicks team, and so far he's lived up to the hype.
When there's no Carmelo Anthony on the floor to take the big shot, there's J.R. Smith.
December is probably a month that J.R. will never forget.
He averaged 18.1 points per game and five rebounds—not too shabby for your sixth man, right?
However, it gets more exciting for New York's hype man.
On December 5, Smith knocked down the game-winning shot against the Charlotte Bobcats. He finished that night with 13 points and four assists. A little over two weeks later, he knocked down another one to put New York ahead of Phoenix 99-97.
J.R. has improved in all aspects as a basketball player. He's playing team ball, he's dishing out assists, finding the open man and making extra passes. Let's not get it mixed up though, J.R.'s still looking for and taking his shot. He's also playing defense—something Smith's never been known to do.
Whatever Mike Woodson has done to his shooting guard, it worked in December, and it'll probably continue to have a positive effect on this team.
Jason Kidd is playing incredible basketball, especially in the month of December.
This past month has been great to the 39-year old point guard—he's averaged just about 10 points per contest with five assists, and the production is likely to increase with Raymond Felton sidelined.
In his first stint as the Knicks' starting point guard, Kidd exceeded expectations. He had a breakout night for 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Jason keeps things moving when he's calling the shots on the court. He's capable of facilitating the offense, but also hitting a big shot—evident in the close game against the Brooklyn Nets when he connected for what would be the game winner.
New York brought this guy in for his veteran experience and leadership qualities, and it appears that they're certainly getting their moneys worth from him.
His wisdom and basketball IQ is uncanny, and seldom do we see a player this good approaching the age of 40.
Last year's Defensive Player of the Year has been playing with tenacity, Tyson Chandler is clearly the backbone of the Knicks' defense.
With Amar'e Stoudemire still out, Chandler had to step his level of play up a bit and look to put the ball in the basket a bit more—he didn't fail to deliver.
In December, the seven-footer averaged 13.8 points per game and 11.7 rebounds.
Just a few days ago, Tyson had his most explosive game of the month.
With Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton out, New York needed to find its offense elsewhere against a Sacramento Kings team that put up 71 points in a half. Chandler put up 21 points, while also grabbing 18 rebounds.
That's not the only time he had great offensive numbers. On eight separate occasions this month, Tyson had at least 15 points in a game.
He's clearly contributing on both sides of the ball, and because of that, Knicks fans can somewhat relax until Amar'e makes his return during the new year.
Did you expect to see anyone else at the No.1 here?
The obvious choice is the MVP-candidate Carmelo Anthony, and the type of season he's been having speaks for itself.
He's set aside the selfish play and recognized that he's surrounded by talent. He's got that team-first mentality when he's on the court and off the court when talking to reporters. The team is clearly benefiting from Carmelo's new ways.
It was Christmas for Carmelo just about every day in December.
Anthony averaged 32.6 points per game for the month, including seven 30-plus-point games.
Do you see why he's deserving of MVP candidacy?
While just about every game displayed Carmelo's excellence, the game of the month obviously came in the Barclays Center against the Brooklyn Nets.
In that game, Melo exploded for 45 points with five rebounds and three assists leading the Knicks to a 100-97 victory and the 16th win for New York.
If this wasn't a rivalry before, Anthony ignited that flame and let it be known that the city belongs to him and the Knicks.