Grading Every NY Knicks Players' 2nd Round Performance so Far
Their key contributors have been mired in grotesque shooting slumps, and the stingy Indiana defense has made matters worse for the Knicks, who just can't seem to string together any sort of offense.
Carmelo Anthony hasn't been able to find his stroke all series long, and the same goes for reigning Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith. Amar'e Stoudemire has returned to the fold, but will he be able to help New York coming off a two-month absence?
Several Knicks have contributed negatively to the team's poor start, but others have given their best efforts reverse the team's fortunes. Regardless, we'll rank each of those players' second-round performance next.
Player Grade: B+
Raymond Felton has stepped up his play in the postseason for New York, but it hasn't exactly translated to victories in the second round.
He's led the Knicks dominant pick-and-roll attack, which has been the third-most effective of all playoff teams. In this series though, those sets have went from netting the team 0.98 points per play, to a mediocre 0.80.
Felton enjoyed success in Games 1 and 2, where he shot a combined 13-of-21 and was perfect from downtown on three attempts. However, game 3 didn't provide the same good fortune for the Knicks' point guard as the lockdown Pacers D forced him into 1-of-8 shooting in Indiana. That translated to just six points and three turnovers.
Felton's shooting line on the series is still superb: 48 percent from the field, 100 percent (3-of-3) from three, and 87.5 percent from the free-throw stripe. He's been a rare bright spot for the Knicks against Indiana overall, but will have to improve on his Game 3 performance if the Knicks want to stand a chance to advance.
Player Grade: B
The second half of the Knicks' point-guard tandem hasn't disappointed, either. He's neglected to shoot the basketball on several occasions, not unlike the regular season, but Pablo Prigioni is still finding other ways to make an impact for New York.
He's averaged 50 percent shooting on just 2.7 attempts per game. Prigioni didn't make a single shot on four attempts in Games 1 and 3, but shot a perfect 4-of-4 in Game 2 including two threes. He's posted nearly five assists per game in just over 22 minutes.
The 36-year-old prides himself in being a pest on the defensive end, especially during in-bounds plays where he sneakily—and usually successfully—attempts to pick off the opposition's pass. He's come away with two steals in the three games.
Prigioni's posted a tidy assist-to-turnover ratio of seven, and has been one of the team's most consistent pieces against the Pacers. In fact, it would probably behoove the Knicks to get a little more burn from him.
Player Grade A-
Iman Shumpert provided Knicks fans with the most explosive team highlight this season.
He's shot a pedestrian 44 percent, but has averaged almost seven boards through three games—including a 10-rebound output in Game 3.
Acting as the only branch of youth on the team, Shumpert has taken matters into his own hands to ignite his veteran teammates.
Shumpert may not have the most talent on the Knicks, but he does seem to have the most heart. Which is the most you can ask of a 22-year-old on a team full of veterans. Like with Prigioni, Mike Woodson would be remiss to keep Shumpert on the bench as much as he has in the first three games.
Player Grade: C
The Knicks' best scorer has carried his shooting slump that developed in the Boston series over to this one. He's averaged just 9.7-of-23.3 shooting, or 41.4 percent. He's shot 40 percent from three, but on just 3.3 attempts per game—he averaged 6.2 heaves from the arc in the regular season.
It's clear that Carmelo Anthony's shoulder and/or other body parts is not fully healthy, or even close. He's seen wincing at various points through the three games, and the gigantic size of the Indiana frontcourt doesn't exactly help. On defense, he's stuck with the assignment of defending David West, who has an inch and 20 pounds on Anthony, in the low post.
Frank Vogel has assigned Paul George with the task of defending Anthony on the other end, and has essentially shut down the Knicks' top weapon.
Carmelo Anthony: shooting 14-41 (34.1%) when guarded by Paul George this series— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 12, 2013
When not matched up with the taller George, Anthony has frequently blown past David West off the dribble, only to meet a vertical Roy Hibbert under the basket, where he gets swallowed up and has shot less than 35 percent.
His assist numbers are down to just 1.7 per game this series, and Anthony must start to recognize open teammates to kick to on drives, or his valiant efforts will be all for naught.
Player Grade: D-
The Knicks have been getting relatively terrible outputs from their core contributors this series, and Tyson Chandler is no exception.
While playing through a neck injury, he's averaged seven points, four rebounds and 4.7 fouls while matched up against Roy Hibbert. Hibbert, to compare, has put up 15 points, 11 boards and three blocks.
As the Knicks' defensive anchor, Chandler was counted on to bang with Hibbert and contest his huge frame. Instead, the Knicks' center has acted as Hibbert's rag doll. Considering where he is health-wise, Chandler stands no chance at stopping Hibbert on the glass.
The team nets 11.1 points more than Indiana per 100 possessions with Chandler off the court this series, compared to the one point less with him on the floor.
Chandler's minutes are down from his regular season total's and they may need to drop even further in favor of Kenyon Martin or even Marcus Camby if they Knicks hope to deter Roy Hibbert in the paint.
Player Grade: F
The Sixth Man of the Year has been the Knicks' worst player through much of the playoffs, and especially during the Indiana series.
This version of Smith looks nothing like the one we saw to conclude the regular season, who finally seemed to put it all together as a pro. He was attacking the paint instead of taking mindless stepbacks, and it secured him his hardware last month. Here is Smith's shot distribution comparison in the regular season. Here is the chart from the Indiana series. Old J.R. is back, is it's killing the Knicks' chances in this series.
He's shot a pathetic 26 percent from the field, and 19 percent from three-point range. That equates to 11 points to go with four rebounds and just one assist. For all the flack Carmelo Anthony is catching about not passing the ball, Smith has been an even guiltier culprit.
4-of-15, 3-of-15, 4-of-12. Those are Smith's shooting lines in three games against Indiana this series. If those don't improve, and if Mike Woodson continues to run him out for extended minutes, the Knicks will lose the series. It's that simple.
Player Grade: D-
Jason Kidd has zero points since April 23. Here's his shot chart since then. He's shot 0-for-14 since then, including 0-for-9 from three, and 0-for-5 in the Indiana series.
He's given the Knicks as close to nothing as possible while still (somehow) receiving more than 20 minutes per game. He has zero points, six assists and 10 boards in the series.
His veteran qualities can only carry him so far, and it appears that the magic wore off before the playoffs even began. He has managed to place himself at the right place at the right time on defense—he's racked up four steals—but that's the extent of his contributions.
Assuming Iman Shumpert is healthy, there's no reason why Kidd's minutes should steeply decline in favor of the younger, more productive guard.
Player Grade: B
Kenyon Martin hasn't received a ton of minutes for New York, but he's been productive in semi-limited time.
He's put up 10 points, four rebounds and a block in 21 minutes per game against Indiana. He's been needed to compete with the Pacers' size in the frontcourt, and has risen to the occasion by posting a tidy 93.6 individual defensive efficiency.
If Tyson Chandler continues his sorry play, Martin could receive a bump in playing time to try to deter Roy Hibbert—something Chandler has proven unable to do.
Mike Woodson has occasionally run a lineup consisting of Chandler, Martin and Carmelo Anthony to try and compete with the Pacers' size. Woodson has run the trio out in each game, but only for a combined six minutes. The numbers don't look bad at first glance, but the spacing on the floor is atrocious and the Knicks struggle to score—not to mention 'Melo playing at the 3 where he's been worse off in 2013.
The Knicks are definitely happy they signed Martin, because without him they'd be entirely unable to compete with Indiana's bigs.
Player Grade: Incomplete
Amar'e Stoudemire returned for Game 3 and put up a decent statline with seven points and three rebounds in nine minutes. Those types of limited minutes are what to expect from Stoudemire through the rest of the series, and it's unlikely he'll be relied on heavily against Indiana.
Part of it has to do with health. Knicks doctors set a minutes limit in the regular season that Mike Woodson neglected to enforce, and Stoudemire ended up in surgery again. Woodson will of course be weary of that this time around, but there's more to it than just health.
STAT's defense has been shoddy-at-best through his entire career, and this season was more of the same. Lining him up against David West or Roy Hibbert would be a defensive disaster, so he would need either Kenyon Martin or Tyson Chandler lined up with him to have his back on that end. Offensively though, that creates problems with floor spacing because Stoudemire is now predominantly a post attacker, just like Chandler, Martin, and the rest of the Knicks bigs.
This also restricts Woodson from playing STAT and 'Melo in the same lineup, because Stoudemire would need to line up at the 4 beside a defensive big, which bumps Anthony down to the 3, where he hasn't been as effective this season, according to 82games.com. Playing Stoudemire and Anthony at the same time also creates huge defensive issues for New York.
It's going to be hard to integrate Stoudemire back into the Knicks' plans in the middle of the postseason, and Indiana's matchups make the task even more daunting.
Player Grade: Incomplete
Steve Novak is in the NBA because of his ability to knock down three-pointers. The Knicks are playing against a team that defends the three-point ball better than any in the NBA. The writing was on the wall for his no-show in the East Semis.
Novak has appeared in two of the three games, for a combined seven minutes of burn and two field goal attempts. He hasn't rebounded, assisted, blocked a shot, stolen a ball, or done anything else. All zeroes.
Unfortunately for Novak, it doesn't seem like much playing time is imminent. Chris Copeland has shown an ability to knock down the three-pointer almost as well, with an added ability to put the ball on the floor and score—and he hasn't managed to crack Woodson's rotation.
If the Knicks suffer an injury and Woody is forced to dip into his reserves, Copeland should get the nod over Novak, whose four-year, $15 million deal isn't looking like much of a bargain these days.
End of the Bench
Chris Copeland: B
Copeland has managed to sneak into every game in the series, but a combined 19 minutes. He's shot 3-of-8 with no rebounds or assists.
Copeland does seem like a viable option to play at the center spot to draw Roy Hibbert away from the paint, opening the lane for Carmelo Anthony. Mike Woodson has chosen not to go this route, and Copeland has been left on the bench through most of the series.
He did, however, hit a troll-thee-pointer in the closing minutes of Game 3, when Woodson did decide to insert him in garbage time.
Quentin Richardson: B+
He's logged seven minutes total, and despite the uniqueness of him being on the squad for the postseason run, the Knicks will be in trouble if they're forced to insert Q-Rich into meaningful action.
Marcus Camby: Incomplete
Outside of a few seconds in Game 1, Marcus Camby has been absent from this entire series. It's curious, considering his large frame and rebounding ability, and the Pacers' likeness, but the 39-year-old must be struggling from the after-effects of plantar fasciitis.
If he can heal up in time to help the Knicks on the boards, Mike Woodson would surely be appreciative, but it doesn't seem as if that's going to be the case.
James White: Incomplete
James White managed to log five minutes in the team's Game 2 victory. He didn't score, however, which is unfortunate seeing that it was likely his only chance.
Flight was inactive for Game 3 with Amar'e Stoudemire back in action, and it'll likely stay that way through the remainder of the playoffs.
Earl Barron: Incomplete
Earl Barron was brought on for the last regular season game after Rasheed Wallace announced his retirement. In the playoffs, he's contributed as much as 'Sheed did when he was on the sidelines.
Barron hasn't appeared for the Knicks in the playoffs. Some could make the argument that the Knicks could use his size, but save your breath. Mike Woodson will hear none of that.
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