Grading the New York Knicks' 1st Half
Not many people would have predicted the New York Knicks to be in contention for the Eastern Conference crown before the season began; but after an offseason filled with big name departures and veteran arrivals, the Knicks now pose the biggest threat to the Miami Heat in the East.
Most of New York's offseason moves have worked out well as they have played to the tune of a 32-18 record, good enough for second in the East and first in the Atlantic Division.
With over half their season already in the books, there is no better time than now to look back on how the Knicks have performed through the All-Star break.
The All-Star and MVP contender has been fabulous for the Knicks so far.
He has averaged 28.6 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game and is on pace for a career high 23.85 PER. He has also shot the ball well from three point range (40.5 percent) and from the field in general (44.7 percent).
Carmelo has battled injuries all year, missing time with a finger injury, ankle injury and most recently a bicep injury. He has been able to remain productive all the while, showing a grittiness to his game that has been missing in the past.
Anthony looks like a man on a mission this year, and thus far has been one of the league's best players over the first half of the season.
Brewer started out the season in the Knicks regular rotation, but as players got healthier (Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert) Brewer saw his playing time evaporate.
Over the past two months Brewer has averaged less than 10 minutes per game and has only averaged 3.3 minutes per game during the first half of Feburary.
His biggest asset is his defense, yet the Knicks need Brewer to be a factor on both ends of the court not just one (he's shot only 36 percent from the field).
Brewer will likely get a chance to play more as the playoffs draw nearer because of his defensive mindset, but so far he's been a major disappointment during his first season in the Big Apple.
Much like Brewer, Marcus Camby has been a disappointment, as well.
No one expected Camby to come in and be the defensive stopper he once was, but it was expected that he at least be on the floor for the majority of the games.
So far he has missed 36 out of the Knicks' 50 games and has only averaged 10 minutes per game when he has been available. The Knicks signed Camby for depth on the frontline with the uncertainty of Amar'e Stoudemire, but haven't received much in return up to this point.
The stats don't tell the whole story for Tyson Chandler.
Chandler is one of the ultimate effort guys in the league and does the little things right to help his team win games. He may only average 1.1 blocks per game, but he affects the game in so many different ways on defense.
The reigning defensive player of the year is rarely out of position on the defensive side of the ball, always helping on the weak side when needed. Chandler also does the small things, such as keeping his hands up and getting in the passing lanes of opponents, that don't show up in the stat sheet.
Add in his exceptional shooting percentage, 11.1 rebounds per game and career high PER and you have the unsung hero of the New York Knicks for the second season in a row.
Chris Copeland has been a pleasant surprise for the New York Knicks this year.
Only averaging a hair over 11 minutes per game, Copeland has actually played fairly well when he has received playing time. In his six games as a starter he has averaged 13.7 points per game while shooting 53 percent from the field and 44 percent from three point range. Not bad for a journeyman spot-starter.
Despite his success, he is behind the Knicks' most talented player on the depth chart, so he will take a backseat to Carmelo in every situation. Even so, he has been impressive for a 28-year-old rookie.
Felton has proved his skeptics wrong with a bounce back season after last year's disaster in Portland. Averaging 14.9 points per game and 6.3 assists per game, Felton has been the engine to the Knicks' offensive success.
When he was out for an extended period of time with a fractured finger, the Knicks hit a midseason slide and sorely missed their floor general. With Felton back in the lineup, the Knicks have another player who can penetrate and open up shots for their bevy of three point shooters.
If the Knicks want to compete with the Heat the rest of the way, they will need Raymond Felton to keep up his good play the rest of the way.
Jason Kidd was, perhaps, the Knicks' best offseason signing.
The wily old veteran has been great for the Knicks this year giving them 7.6 points per game, 3.6 assists per game and 4 rebounds per game. He has also played solid defense and been one of the leaders of this team.
Kidd takes nearly five three pointers a game, but he has been able to connect on a decent percentage of them (38 percent). He allows the Knicks to stretch the floor and will be an integral part of this team come playoff time.
Nothing beats a "Novak-Double-Check."
Despite the greatness of his signature move, Novak has had a disappointing first half of the 2012-2013 season. He's only averaging 6.9 points per game and has seen his three point percentage drop nearly three points from last year.
He still shoots the three-ball well at 44 percent, but he is only shooting 42 percent from the field otherwise. Novak has his big moments and is one of the more reliable Knicks' shooters, but hasn't had the impact this season some thought he may have.
When giving these grades I take two main things into consideration: expectations and performance.
Entering the season nobody heard of Prigioni and no one expected a thing out of him, yet halfway through the season he is among Knicks fans favorite players.
Prigioni embodies everything a coach wants in a point guard–high effort and unselfishness. He is not afraid to sacrifice his body and is always willing to pass to teammates, too willing at times. Prigioni has shown he can make shots when asked, but defers to teammates a bit too often when he is left open.
This season has been an unexpected one for Prigioni, and although he isn't lighting up the stat sheet he is providing the Knicks with great energy and effort.
If only his play was as breathtaking as his high-top.
Shumpert missed much of the season after coming off ACL surgery last summer and has struggled to regain his form during his short time back. In the 13 games since his injury, he has shot only 33 percent and hasn't looked like his normal self on defense snatching only 0.7 steals per game during that stretch.
That is expected from a player coming off major knee surgery not even a year ago, but even Shumpert has failed to live up to the expectations of his return to the lineup. If he continues to shoot this poorly he could see his recovery from surgery move to the bench as his playing time will dwindle.
J.R. Smith is a streaky player, luckily for the Knicks he's been fairly consistent for the majority of the season (to his own standards).
He has seen his shooting percentage drop from his scintillating start, but did anyone really expect him to shoot 48 percent from three point range for the whole year, as he did in November? Smith will always be an enigma, yet he also has the talent to be great if he could play consistently.
He settles for questionable shots too often and many times is left with the ball at the end of the shot clock forcing him to take bad shots. When he is hot, though, he can put a team on his back, as he has shown this year.
The best part of Amar'e Stoudemire's season to date is the fact that he put his ego aside to come off the bench. That gesture receives serious brownie points as other stars have shown they are not willing to do the same.
Stoudemire has actually played well in his limited minutes during his time back, as well. He's averaging 13.6 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game while only seeing 22 minutes of playing time per game. STAT is no longer the dynamic player he used to be, but he has still played to the tune of a 22.13 PER this season, second on the Knicks.
Amar'e has held up well so far, but hopefully this year's playoffs go better than last year's.
The 40-year-old wasn't expected to give the Knicks much except depth and leadership, but Kurt Thomas has played well when he has seen the court.
Averaging only nine minutes per game, Thomas has grabbed 2.2 rebounds per game while scoring only 2.4 points. He has been able to play solid defense and shoot a high percentage while he is in, though.
According to John Hollinger's PER, Thomas is right around average for a player at his position. Not too shabby for a man who's supposed to be over-the-hill.
Rasheed was having a terrific season before a foot injury sidelined him for two months.
Having not seen the court since December 13, 'Sheed hasn't provided the Knicks with much lately. Before that, though, Rasheed was one of the Knicks' most valuable players.
Wallace brought a toughness to the Knicks they have lacked in years past, as well as another three point option on offense. He is still able to defend well for his age and is a crafty player at both ends of the court.
Reports have him practicing soon, which will be a huge boost for New York.
James "Flight" White is best known for his underappreciated dunk in the dunk contest this past weekend (he dunked with two hands just inside the free throw line! Everyone else usually just does it with one).
For the Knicks this year, White has shown some flash, but has remained irrelevant for most of the year. He gives the Knicks another athletic wing capable of playing multiple positions, yet will never see significant minutes.
He's been buried on the Knicks bench for most of the first half of the season, and it would shock nobody if he remains there for the second half.