Final Grades for Every NY Knicks Starter in 2012-13
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The injury-riddled New York Knicks ran out 24 starting lineups during the 2012-13 NBA season, which included 15 different players who earned a GS next to their names in the box score. Surely you're familiar with the Carmelo Anthonys and Raymond Feltons, but even the James Whites and Ronnie Brewers will earn their individual recognition here.
Apologies to Solomon Jones and Earl Barron—afterthought big men who each snuck into one starting lineup—as well as Steve Novak and Marcus Camby, who started one and four games, respectively. We'll be dishing out grades for Knicks who were on-court for the opening tip at least five times this season.
Thanks to Mike Woodson's interesting scheme involving certain starters playing next-to-nothing minutes, several of the following players didn't impact their started contests all that much. Their contributions, albeit minimal, will be recognized. Oh yeah, we'll talk about the important guys, too.
Games Started: 68
Player Grade: B
Broken into two portions sandwiched around 12 missed games with a broken finger, Raymond Felton's season featured several encouraging signs, as well as an alarming number of miscues. Luckily for Felton's future, the latter section of his 2013 campaign was much more solid than his first.
Early on, Felton was able to cope with the inevitable comparisons to his point guard predecessor, Jeremy Lin. Through his first 12 games in his second New York stint, Felton put up numbers comparable to the best maestros in the league.
His sizzling start coincided with the team's 18-5 beginning, and it was no wonder that New York only managed .500 basketball in his late-December through late-January absence. But upon his return, it was apparent that Felton wasn't close to 100 percent. In a 13-game stretch from Feb. 2 to March 4, he shot just 41 percent from the field and 27 percent from three-point range while adding just 4.8 assists.
His last 21 games of the season were far more alike to his early-season success. In that time, he shot nearly 50 percent from the field—much better than his 43-percent mark on the season—and over 40 percent from three. More importantly, he was shooting only 9.8 baskets a contest. The Knicks' offense benefited by posting 111 points per 100 possessions in that time, bettering their 108.6 mark on the season, which was third-best league-wide.
Felton brought almost exactly what we could've expected him to bring to the Knicks. He possesses a lethal first step and can explode past defenders to get to the rim. Once he gets there though, it's a different story. Felton struggles to finish on attempts at the cup, which is especially depressing considering how good he is at getting there. Hoopdata says he shot a mediocre 58.5 percent on attempts at the basket.
Defensively, Felton isn't quick enough to guard opposing point guards. That was the case coming into 2012-13, and held true throughout. According to 82games, the man he was checking posted a PER of nearly 20 on the season.
Felton definitely had his faults last season, but with him off the court, New York scored seven fewer points per 100 possessions. The offense had little sense of direction without him. He gave the Knicks just about all he's capable of, which was mere adequacy on a team that doesn't rely on much more than that from their 1.
Games Started: 67
Player Grade: A-
For a while, it seemed like 2012-13 was going to be the best season of Carmelo Anthony's career. In many senses, it was.
He took home the league's scoring title and led the Knicks on their longest playoff run in more than a decade. But the team failed to reach its ultimate goal of battling with the Miami Heat in the conference finals, thanks to a premature postseason exit. Which means Anthony, as a leader, failed as well.
Through the first third of the season, Anthony appeared to be every bit of the superstar Knicks fans had expected. He bought into Mike Woodson's accountability-preaching system. He took on the power forward position for the first time ever, and was scoring more efficiently than he ever had. When doubled in the post, he used what seemed like another sense to fling the ball to open teammates, initiating a beautiful display of ball movement almost always ending with an open attempt.
Twenty-seven games into the year, Anthony posted MVP-type numbers. Forty-eight percent shooting, including 44-percent from the arc, equated to more than 29 points per contest. But it was more than the scoring that elevated the Knicks' leader to such heights. He was actually leading. On several occasions Anthony sacrificed his body for the team, and he rarely took a shot that left Knicks fans frustrated.
Look no further than a November matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, when his shooting touch happened to take the night off. He shot just 2-of-7 in the first half, and put up just five attempts the rest of the way, giving way to his teammates en route to an inspiring fourth-quarter comeback.
As the season progressed, and as the injuries piled up, Anthony gradually reverted back to old habits. Over a 32-game extended stretch from Jan. 7 to March 31, he posted relatively terrible shooting marks of 40 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range. He still managed to put up 26 points per contest, but points don't always positively correlate with production. This situation was evidence of that.
It was a scorching hot run over the season's final eight games that saved Anthony's final averages. He shot a LeBron James-like 54 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three, leading to a ridiculous 37 points per game. He also added 10 rebounds during that time as well.
Carmelo made strides in 2012-13, and proved to New York that he can buy in to his teammates. The issue was that he couldn't kick the urge to depend on his individual talent to carry the Knicks to victories. A healthier Anthony in 2013-14 should provide the same spark as he did for his best stretches this past season, as long as he resists the temptation to ditch the strategy in favor of calling his own number.
Games Started: 66
Player Grade: B
After taking home Defensive Player of the Year honors in his first Knicks campaign, Tyson Chandler's New York future seemed as bright as anyone's. The argument could've been made that he was the team's best player in 2011-12. Unfortunately, that argument probably couldn't be made this past year.
Chandler's season started in less-than-ideal fashion after he tweaked his knee during the last preseason game versus the Brooklyn Nets. Through the first 12 games of the year, Chandler averaged just 10 points, nine boards and less than a block in 29 minutes for the Knicks.
After the rocky beginning, though, Chandler was as solid as they come. From Nov. 26 through March 11, Chandler scored 11 points and grabbed 12 boards on average over 49 games, even earning his first All-Star nod.
On March 13, though, Chandler's season was derailed by a knee injury he suffered against the Denver Nuggets. The knee issue evolved into a back and neck issue, leading to nearly a month off away from the court during which he caught strep throat from his daughter, leading to detrimental weight loss, according to Chandler.
He was unable to return to the Knicks' lineup until April 2, when he participated in four more games before ending his regular season on April 7, six games early.
His abysmal playoff performance was seemingly a direct result of the late-season missed time. Chandler was a shell of his mid-season self, and Roy Hibbert had him for lunch in the east semis.
His defense all season long was erratic, at least compared to his first season in New York, but he still acted as the Knicks' defensive anchor in the middle.
All in all, Chandler's second season at the Garden was a small step back from his inaugural one, but was still respectable nonetheless. His lack of an offensive game is starting to become an issue for New York, however, as Amar'e Stoudemire is quickly morphing into a minor contributor to the frontcourt, and Carmelo Anthony lacks a real scoring threat beside him in the lineup.
If Chandler can add any sort of scoring weapons to his game this offseason, it could be enough—coupled with his defense—to improve the Knicks next year.
Games Started: 48
Player Grade: C+
During the Knicks' 18-5 initial run, the Jason Kidd signing appeared to be the bargain of the offseason. Playing exclusively off the ball for the first time ever, Kidd was the perfect supplement to the Knicks offense, providing direction, poise and surprising spot-up shooting.
Over the first 18 games of the season, Kidd put up a shooting line of .495/527/.926. The nearly 53-percent mark from three-point land was perhaps the biggest surprise in the NBA at the time, and Kidd was New York's most consistent all-around option besides Carmelo Anthony over the first month-and-a-half.
Then the regressions happened. It happened abruptly, and Kidd never was able to regain that magic touch of the first 18 games. In the 58 games after his red hot open to the season, Kidd's shooting line was a putrid .333/.299/.714.
The 40-year-old's intangibles quickly went from necessary to unimportant, and the two remaining years on his deal became uglier with each clanked three-point attempt. By the end of the season, Kidd brought almost nothing to the floor. Without any threat of scoring, smart defense was only able to carry the veteran so far.
Even Kidd's tendency to be in the right place at the right time on defense wasn't enough to justify playing him at all. His effective replacement, Iman Shumpert, provided more defensive talent than Kidd even could in his prime. Mike Woodson stuck with Kidd, however, ironic as it may have been, since he may have been the one to blame for the guard's demise after a hefty workload through much of the year.
After 36 games, Kidd was still a 41-percent three-point shooter, but was averaging nearly 30 minutes per game. Even his decreased 24.5 minutes per game couldn't save him over the last 40 games; it was already too late, as he shot a sad 27 percent from three over that span.
What looked to be such a pleasant surprise for the Knicks was just an illusion all along—one that Woodson refused to doubt.
Games Started: 45
Player Grade: B
The youngest Knick began his season on Jan. 17 in London against the Detroit Pistons. It was a late start after a recovery from his reconstructed knee, and there was unfortunately an extended adjustment period to begin his sophomore campaign.
Iman Shumpert was immediately inserted into the Knicks' starting lineup, but it wasn't the Shump we got to know in 2011-12. It took him about two months to fully regain confidence in the knee and in his game. In the meantime, he was an indecisive, awkward swingman who had almost no positive impact on the offense at all.
From January 17 to March 17, Shumpert shot 34 percent from the field, 37 percent from three-point range and 65 percent from the stripe, equating to fewer than six points per game in nearly 21 minutes. Mike Woodson prefers his wing players in the corners, where they await open three-point opportunities. This was not an immediate match made in heaven for Shumpert, who made his offensive impact off cuts, and was never a three-point threat before.
Defense notwithstanding, Shumpert's first two months did nothing to help the Knicks.
After the unfortunate two-month adjustment period, the 22-year-old started to look a lot more like what we remembered from his impressive rookie campaign. Over the season's final month, Shumpert saw his minutes bump from 21 to 24. He shot 47 percent from the field in that time, and 44 percent from three, without missing a single free throw.
That impeccable defense was a factor through his entire sophomore season, and he may have even improved on his defensive domination as a rookie. By the time the postseason was finished, Shumpert proved himself as the Knicks' best two-way player, and a piece to build around for the future.
Games Started: 34
Player Grade: D+
The Knicks brought on Ronnie Brewer as a stopgap to keep the first-team swingman spot warm in Iman Shumpert's absence. He couldn't even make it that long.
The first few weeks of his season had all basketball followers terribly confused. The same Ronnie Brewer who had shot 24 percent on three-pointers in his career was shooting treys at a 42-percent clip on Dec. 5—a span of 17 entire basketball games. Brewer was adding seven points and a steal to the Knicks' starting crew, and Glen Grunwald likely had a sore spot on his back from all the patting.
But then Ronnie Brewer remembered he was Ronnie Brewer.
In his last 29 games as a Knick, he made only five more threes. He shot a nightmare-ish 16.7 percent on three-pointers and 24 percent on everything. The defense on which he prided himself basically disappeared, as opposing wings consistently were beating him backdoor.
Brewer was dealt away to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the deadline for a draft pick and a trade exception. With OKC, he averaged 0.9 points 2.9 rebounds per game in 10 minutes, and even made a three-point shot.
Games Started: 18
Player Grade: B+
It took Mike Woodson two-thirds of a season to realize, but Pablo Prigioni may have been the most consistent point guard on the Knicks's roster this past season.
Stashed away on the bench for most of the season, the NBA's oldest rookie was averaging fewer than 15 minutes per game on March 17. Woodson, unable or unwilling to insert Prigioni into the rotation for much of the year, finally budged and made the Argentinian import a starter on March 18. Thirteen straight wins ensued.
Prigioni defines unselfishness on offense, occasionally to a fault. On several occasions this past season, Pablo was the one kicked to for an open look, only to hold the ball in an attempt to find another option. Pablo Prigioni: The Generous Ball-Stopper.
When he was at his best, though, Prigioni displayed a well-rounded offensive game and was an active pest on defense. He shot 46 percent from the floor and made 40 percent of his threes. His irritating swarming of in-bounds plays on defense never failed to drive opponents crazy, and for some reason, they often failed to remember Prigioni's specialty on these plays. He came away with countless steals and tipped passes this way.
Prigioni provided the offense with a sense of direction and ball movement, just like Jason Kidd did in the season's first month.
Pablo's numbers as a starter depict exactly the kind of player he is offensively. Although the scoring numbers aren't as high as the Knicks would've liked, his shooting clips are extraordinary for a starting guard.
While still receiving just under 22 minutes, Prigioni's impact was felt every time the ball got stuck and he happened to be on the sideline. During the playoffs, the Knicks scored a tremendous 20 points more per 100 possessions with Prigs on the court, as opposed to when he was sitting.
Games Started: 17
Player Grade: B
Kurt Thomas wasn't asked of much in what was probably his last NBA season, but he did all that was asked of him this past year. That's for sure.
Occasionally asked to start at power forward when the Knicks went bigger early on—or sporadically in place of an injured Carmelo Anthony—Thomas provided sturdy defense and a big body under the rim that could occasionally knock down the spot-up mid-range jumper. He shot 50 percent on jump shots this season, including this fun three from February.
The oldest player in the league gave the Knicks all he had up until he couldn't any longer. Likely his last game as an NBA player came against the Utah Jazz in March, on the heels of several straight double-digit losses on the road.
With several key Knicks down with injuries of their own, Thomas—who, the public learned earlier that day, was playing with a stress fracture in his foot that needed repair—logged a season-high 27 minutes to help the Knicks knock off Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and the bigger Jazz. The win sparked a 13-game success streak.
Games Started: 16
Player Grade: C-
James White starting NBA games was strange from the very beginning. He isn't particularly good, and never played many minutes at all. Yet he continued to act as the Knicks' starting small forward for an extended seven-game run in March where he averaged 10 minutes per game.
White being so bad is confusing when you think about what he brings to the table as a player. He has an athletic 6'7", 200-pound body, which is near perfect size for a wing. He can jump out of the gym, as we all know. His athleticism usually translates to good on-ball defense, and his jumper is usually pretty good. Add up all these attributes, and you should get a pretty serviceable NBA player, right?
Apparently not. White was never able to put it together with the Knicks, failing at nearly every opportunity thrown his way. It always seemed like he should've had a breakout bucket or an impact steal that would finally justify his many starts. But that never happened.
White shot 43 percent from the field and 34 percent from behind the three-point line. And worse than that on dunks during All-Star Weekend. He was 6-of-7 on dunk attempts in games that counted, though.
That's pretty much it on Flight. The second year of his contract becomes guaranteed for about $1 million if the Knicks don't waive him before free agency starts, so expect them to do that.
Games Started: Not Enough (13)
Player Grade: B+
After making Mike Woodson's veteran-cluttered roster out of training camp as a non-guaranteed invitee, Chris Copeland knew he was fighting an uphill battle for playing time in his rookie year. As the season went on, he'd soon find out that it was never a fair battle.
As a 28-year-old rookie, Copeland displayed an incredible ability to score. Per 36 minutes, he averaged more than 20 points and finished 13th in the NBA with a 42.1 percent three-point field goal percentage. This, in Mike Woodson's mind, wasn't enough to give him more than 15 minutes per game.
Granted, his defense and rebounding were severe weaknesses. Woodson has alluded to that on multiple occasions. But when the offense ran bone dry at points in the postseason, Copeland was left on the sidelines, inexplicably.
In his starts—which came sporadically throughout the season as Woodson tinkered with his wing players—Cope averaged 16 points in 27 minutes, while shooting threes at a 43-percent clip. Over his last six games (four starts) of the regular season, Copeland averaged 21 points and five rebounds in 34.5 minutes on 49-shooting from the floor and 46-percent from three.
Copeland will be a restricted free agent this summer, and could move on to a team that offered him a deal worth more than New York's qualifying offer (about $1 million).
Games Started: 11
Player Grade: B+
Kenyon Martin joined the Knicks after the trade deadline following a half-season of being a spectator. The team was in desperate need of size after injuries to Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas, and Martin was available. Luckily for the Knicks, opponents found him as terrifying as fans do.
Almost immediately implanted as the starting center due to a Tyson Chandler knee injury, Martin appeared to be the most athletic of all the 10-plus-year vets on the team (and yes, there were many).
In his 10-game starting streak while Chandler recovered from various injuries to end the regular season, Martin posted 10 points, six rebounds and a block in 28 minutes. Pretty impressive for a player who off the court for the previous three-and-a-half months.
Possibly Martin's best performance in a Knick uniform came on March 23, when he put up 18 points and seven rebounds, and even had the MSG faithful chanting his name to close the first half of a would-be Knicks win.
Stats from Basketball-Reference.