NY Knicks Power Rankings: Rating Every Player After First Six Weeks
It has been a dreadful start to the 2013-14 season for the New York Knicks, who opened with a record of 3-13. Their offense is stagnant, the defense is atrocious and they lack leadership. Nearly every member of the team is battling injury or simply not playing up to his potential.
It is difficult to rank the performances of individuals when so many of them are under-performing and the team is playing so poorly as a whole. Still, even on bad teams, certain individuals are most responsible for the team’s limited success.
In ranking the Knicks I considered that some players maintain value even when they are struggling. For example, a shooter who is not knocking down his shots may still draw attention from defenders based on his reputation or potential to score. He can also contribute as a facilitator, defender or rebounder. I also took into account players' positions and roles on the team when assessing their value.
* All statistics as of Dec. 3rd
11. Beno Udrih
The Knicks’ free agent deal with Beno Udrih was hailed as one of the better value signings of the summer, but it quickly became apparent to Knicks fans why Udrih was not able to secure anything more than the veteran's minimum.
The Slovenian point guard is a horrendous defender and, though crafty with the ball, his offensive contributions have been sporadic at best. He is a shoot-first point guard who is knocking down just 38.3 percent of his shots and is slow to initiate the team's offensive sets.
Udrih started four games for the Knicks in November when Raymond Felton was sidelined with a hip injury. He was solid in two of them, contributing 19 points, four assists and eight rebounds against the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 20th, and 13, five and five versus the Portland Trailblazers on Nov. 25th.
10. Amar'e Stoudemire
Amar'e Stoudemire's sad decline is accelerated by each new knee surgery. His "secret surgery" over the summer marked the third in less than 12 months.
Stoudemire has no lift in his legs and is struggling to get his shot off in the paint. He is far from the player he was just last year, when he averaged 14.2 points on 57.7 percent shooting in 29 games. This year, he is scoring 4.9 points per game on 45 percent shooting in 14.5 minutes of action. His points per 36 minutes are down from 21.8 in 2012-13 to 12.2.
Amar'e has argued that the minutes limit placed upon him has stymied his progress. That may be true to an extent, but the Knicks do not have the luxury of allowing him to regain his game on the fly. Stoudemire's defense is so dreadful that if he is not extremely efficient offensively, it is detrimental to have him out there.
9. Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace began the season as a key member of Mike Woodson's rotation. He provided solid defense while adding 11.5 points in 25.7 minutes per contest over the Knicks' first six games.
However, World Peace has not been the same player since missing two games and having his left knee drained in mid-November, the same knee he had surgery on in March. The 15-year veteran has averaged a measly 1.5 points per game in 8.3 minutes of action over his last six outings and played just 34 seconds in the Knicks' Dec. 1st loss to the Pelicans.
Ian Begley of ESPN.com reported that World Peace had a heated argument with Kenyon Martin before that game. The Knicks should consider giving him some time to rest his knee so that he will be healthy enough to re-direct that aggression towards the opposition.
8. Pablo Prigioni
Pablo Prigioni seems to have fallen out of favor with Coach Woodson. After starting three of the Knicks' first six games, the Argentinian's minutes have dropped in recent weeks. Woodson opted to start Beno Udrih instead of Prigioni for the four games that Raymond Felton missed with injury.
The perception among Knick fans that the team’s ball movement improves when Prigioni is in the game has not been supported by statistics this season. New York's assist ratio and offensive efficiency are higher when Prigioni is on the bench (16.4 and 99.9) than on the floor (14.5 and 97.2), per NBA.com (registration required).
Prigioni continues to harass ball-handlers and comes up with the occasion steal on an inbounds pass, but the 36-year-old is not quick enough to keep point guards out of the paint.
7. Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Knicks’ rough start to the season, combined with the struggles of shooting guards J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in particular, created an opportunity for Tim Hardaway Jr. to show what he can do. Like most rookies, he has been inconsistent on both ends.
Hardaway's greatest asset is his ability to run the floor. His shot selection has been questionable at times, though that should improve as he matures. The same can be said for his missed defensive rotations.
The University of Michigan product turned in the best game of his young career on Dec. 1st against the New Orleans Pelicans. Hardaway helped the Knicks capture the lead in the fourth quarter with a barrage of threes. He finished the game with 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting from behind the arc.
6. Kenyon Martin
Kenyon Martin has been forced to play more minutes than the Knicks medical staff had recommended, due to the injury to Tyson Chandler. The 14-year veteran is playing about 18 minutes a night and has started seven games for Mike Woodson's team.
Though not the shot-blocker he once was, K-Mart provides the Knicks with some rim protection and much-needed toughness on the front line. Teams cannot exploit Martin in the pick-and-roll the way they do Andrea Bargnani and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Once Chandler is healthy, Martin will return to his role as a backup center/power forward. Woodson will pair him with Bargnani and/or Stoudemire off the bench to cover for their defensive deficiencies.
5. J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith's abysmal shooting is one of the many problems plaguing the Knicks' offense. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year was New York’s second-leading scorer last season at 18.1 points per game. This year he is averaging 11.7 on 33.1 percent shooting from the field and 29.6 shooting percent from downtown.
The streaky shooter played the best basketball of his career late last season when he drove the ball to the basket. Smith averaged 6.6 free throw attempts per game during the Knicks' last 20 regular season games in 2012-13. This season that number is down to 2.1 and he is settling for outside shots far too often.
Smith's difficulties have extended to the defensive side of the ball. His characteristic mental lapses have returned and even when the shooting guard is focused, he has had trouble staying with his man.
J.R. recently admitted that his left knee, which was surgically repaired during the offseason, has been bothering him, via Al Iannazzone of Newsday (registration required). That could explain his reluctance to drive and diminished athleticism.
4. Iman Shumpert
This was supposed to be Iman Shumpert's breakout season. Instead, the third-year shooting guard is averaging fewer points (8.8) and field goal attempts (7.8) per 36 minutes than last season (11 points and 9.9 FGA). He is lost at times in the offense and appears to have lost confidence in his much-improved jumper.
Shumpert's regression could be attributable to offseason knee surgery. He may also be distracted by the trade rumors swirling around him.
Shump’s value continues to lie in his defense. He is still prone to gambling for steals, though he remains the team's best perimeter defender by far and Coach Woodson relies on him to cover the opposing team's most dangerous wing scorer.
3. Raymond Felton
Raymond Felton has courageously battled through hamstring, back and hip injuries, though has not been very effective for Mike Woodson's team. No. 2 is averaging 11.0 points per game on 38.7 percent shooting and his connecting on just 25 percent of his three-point attempts.
The feisty point guard also misses Tyson Chandler more than anybody. Felton is not quick enough to break down a defense with dribble penetration without help, and he and Chandler developed nice chemistry on the pick-and-roll last season.
Felton, who is a poor defender when healthy, has been unable to keep opposing point guards in front of him, which is particularly problematic without Chandler there to protect the rim. The veteran is going to have to pick up his play on both ends of the floor for the Knicks to turn their season around.
2. Andrea Bargnani
Andrea Bargnani has re-discovered the mid-range stroke that made him a 20-point-scorer a few years ago. He has flourished offensively as the Knicks' starting center with Tyson Chandler out of the lineup, averaging 16.9 points over his last ten games and has rebounded better than expected, grabbing 7.0 boards per game over that span.
His problem is on the other end of the floor. Bargnani is a solid post defender, but is seemingly incapable of defending the pick-and-roll, and teams are attacking him relentlessly. The Knicks may be able to mask Bargnani's defensive deficiencies when Chandler returns, but as of now, they do not have enough solid defenders around him to compensate for his shortcomings.
New York's defensive rating is 8.5 points higher when Bargnani is on the court (108.4) than when he is on the bench (99.9) and despite his solid shooting, there is only a slight uptick in the team's offensive rating when he is in the game (99.4 to 98.3), via NBA.com (registration required).
1. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony has had to carry an even greater share of the load with J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton struggling, and Tyson Chandler out of the lineup. The six-time All-Star is leading the league with 40.4 minutes per game and has made more of an effort on the glass, averaging 9.9 rebounds per game.
The added minutes and responsibility have diminished Anthony's efficiency. He is shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 27.7 percent from behind the arc, down from 44.9 percent and 37.9 percent last season. Most telling is his 37 percent shooting in the fourth quarter, via NBA.com (registration required).
As the Knicks' best player, Anthony bears responsibility for their horrendous start. The ball stops moving when it hits his hands, his defensive effort is inconsistent and there is a glaring absence of leadership on the team.
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