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J.R. Smith: D
J.R. Smith has been very bad ever since he elbowed Jason Terry in the face during last season's playoffs. There may or may not be a relation between the event and the putrid performance, but since that date, Smith hasn't even come close to resembling last year's Sixth Man of the Year.
He made just 29 percent of his attempts last postseason following a one-game suspension for the elbow, averaging 13.5 points on 14.6 shots.
He has shot 35 percent this year from the field and 34 from beyond the arc. Mike Woodson's faith in Smith has never wavered, though—even though it probably should have by now. He's logged 31 minutes of court time on average thus far.
We've seen it time and time again in just 15 games. Smith firing passes at teammates' shoelaces. Smith dribbling the ball off his own shoelaces. Smith telegraphing lobs square into the arms of defenders. And with the ensuing dead ball, Woodson is quick to make a substitution—though usually swapping out one of Pablo Prigioni, Tim Hardaway or Iman Shumpert, leaving Smith on despite his own ineffectiveness.
J.R. has done nothing to warrant any multi-year deal, let alone the potential four-year, $24 million pact he signed last summer. If Woodson is shown the door in the coming weeks, it's unlikely that his successor will show as much patience with Smith.
Pablo Prigioni: A
Finally! Management can find solace in one free-agent signing this past offseason. Thirty-six-year-old Pablo Prigioni has brought about as much as one could ask at the point in his second NBA season. It's not his fault he's only been on the court for 15.5 minutes per game, if you discount his opening-night, 37-minute outlier.
It's always fairly obvious that the Knicks' offense runs much more fluidly with Prigioni at the controls. Look no further than New York's defeat to the Boston Celtics at MSG on Sunday. Prigioni played 17 minutes, and finished with an even plus-minus ratio. In a game the Knicks lost by 41.
New York shot 64 percent with him on the floor (including 80 percent from three), and 22 percent (including 18 percent from three) in 31 minutes with him off.
On defense, Prigioni is active but without the frame or stamina to keep up with shiftier points. Regardless, along with Tim Hardaway, Prigioni has probably been one of the Knicks' most consistent backcourt players through 20 games.
Kenyon Martin: B
The Knicks won't be able to rely on Kenyon Martin a whole lot these days, but for the minimum, the team's certainly getting its money's worth.
Martin is the lone defensive presence with Tyson Chandler out after breaking his leg last month. He's made the occasional start, averaged 18 minutes, and put up seven points, eight boards and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes.
His shooting marks have dropped from 60 percent last season to roughly 51 percent in 2013-14, which can be attributed to the overall choppiness of the offense as compared to last season. Not much Martin can do to help out there.
He's under a medical-limitation umbrella similar to Amar'e Stoudemire, which is a little disheartening, but it could be just what the doctor ordered. Though it's still early, Martin hasn't showed any major signs of wear, even despite missing most of training camp with ankle issues.