Grading the New York Knicks' Pleasant Surprises So Far This Season

Andrew MontagContributor IIDecember 7, 2013

Grading the New York Knicks' Pleasant Surprises So Far This Season

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    Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

    One of the biggest surprises in the NBA this year has been the play of the New York Knicks.

    The Knicks posted a disappointing 5-13 record through Dec. 6, and quite frankly, it has been hard to identify bright spots. In lieu of center Tyson Chandler, the Knicks have looked to many reserves and bench players.

    Players were graded based on their value to the team and their statistical performances this season. Starters who have been underperforming this season have been omitted from the list. 

    Take a look at some of the noteworthy performances from members of the Knicks so far this season.

Carmelo Anthony

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    Carmelo Anthony has been doing everything for the Knicks.

    He was second in the NBA in scoring through Dec. 5, averaging 25.9 points per game, and was posting career-high rebounding numbers at 9.9 per game. That was good for 11th in the NBA.

    'Melo is at his natural position, playing the 4, at most times, but you cannot expect Anthony to grind and rebound with the oversized power forwards around the league all season.

    If he continues this style of play when center and defensive leader Tyson Chandler returns from his broken leg, expect the Knicks' fortunes to turn for the better.

     

    Grade: A-

Andrea Bargnani

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    Andrea Bargnani has had an interesting season. For a man of his size—7'0", 250 pounds—his rebounding numbers, 5.2 per game through Dec. 5, are simply dismal. However, Bargnani has contributed to the Knicks offense consistently, averaging 15.4 points per game.

    There is no doubt that Bargnani has been helping the team offensively, but unfortunately his defensive presence is meek. The Knicks have been torched on the boards, and part of this is Bargnani’s responsibility.

    The Knicks knew what they were getting when they traded for Bargnani this summerin the deal that sent their 2016 first-round draft pick over to Toronto, along with Quentin Richardson, Marcus Camby, Steve Novak and two other second-round picks. However, without Chandler, Bargnani’s defensive weaknesses have been exposed.

     

    Grade: B+

Kenyon Martin

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    When Chandler went down with a broken leg just games into the season, the Knicks knew they were in trouble. Already plagued by a lack of depth and size in the frontcourt, the Knicks simply didn’t have the manpower or reinforcements at center.

    Veteran power forward Kenyon Martin has logged valuable minutes and has contributed surprisingly. Since Chandler’s injury, Martin has been averaging more than 20 minutes per game. While his stats don’t show it, his value to the Knicks defense is vital.

    His mid-range game seems to have improved, and in Chandler’s absence, Martin has been the new anchor of the defense. Martin wasn’t expected to log many minutes with his veteran status and deteriorating body, but he has been a very valuable and seemingly irreplaceable aspect of the Knicks' rotation.

     

    Grade: B-

Beno Udrih

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    The Knicks are a guard-heavy team, with point guards Pablo Prigioni, Raymond Felton and Beno Udrih all on the active roster. The Knicks even have Chris Smith, J.R.’s brother, as a point guard.

    With starting point guard Felton battling an array of injuries, Udrih has stepped up to facilitate an offense that seems to have little to no flow.

    An offseason acquisition of then-general manager Glen Grunwald, Udrih has proved himself to coach Mike Woodson, and he has been a prominent member of the Knicks' rotation.

    Udrih has posted an impressive 46.2 percent three-point field-goal percentage and has looked very confident with his mid-range game.

    However, with Felton returning to full health expect to see Udrih’s minutes begin to dwindle. While Udrih is certainly no long-term answer to the team's point guard woes, he has done a serviceable job.

     

    Grade: B-

Amar'e Stoudemire

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    One could say Amar’e Stoudemire has been irrelevant since the Knicks acquired Anthony.

    Stoudemire has battled knee injuries for the second half of his career, requiring numerous surgeries that have left him with a minutes limitation under Coach Woodson.

    However, with Chandler’s injury, Stoudemire has become a regular part of the Knicks' rotation and has provided a surprising offensive jolt in a few games.

    With impressive performances against Washington and Portland, scoring 12 and 10 points respectively, on Nov. 23 and 25, he has showcased some of his offensive game that seemed to be invisible last season.

    While he is still considerably weaker around the rim, look for Stoudemire to continue his offensive play until Chandler’s return.

     

    Grade: C+