Could a Knick beside Carmelo Anthony have a serious chance at cracking the All-Star lineup?
As a team, it's clear the Knicks have struggled more than anyone could've expected. New York is 7-17, good for third-worst in the East.
Carmelo Anthony's performance, though, has kept them from sliding even further. Anthony has put up over 26 points and a career-high nine boards thus far, and will almost definitely be an All-Star this season.
Can any other Knick step up their game to earn consideration for a reserve role? Ahead we break down who has the best chances of participating in basketball's battle of the stars. Note: All the following candidates' chances will add up to 100 percent.
All-Star Odds: 0.5%
Last season, quite a deal was made of J.R. Smith's exemption from the East's All-Star roster, despite his great scoring output off the bench for New York. He won't have to worry about any such snub this year, though. Smith has been horrible in every facet of the game.
His field-goal percentage has dipped from 42 percent a year ago to 34 percent this season, and a declined 34 percent from three. His shot selection has been as putrid as ever, and has created just six points per game through assists this season, according to NBA.com.
Mike Woodson has been stubbornly reluctant to dip Smith's minutes this season—he's averaging more than 30 a game. Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. has seen a steady increase in minutes over the last few games, though, and could potentially overtake Smith in the pecking order if the former Sixth Man of the Year doesn't pick it up.
His PER is down to a career-low 9.3, his true shooting percentage is at a career-low .445, his free-throw rate is his second-worst ever, and his defensive rebounding percentage has dipped two full points from a year ago. None of which are positive signs from the player that sat out the season's first five games due to a drug suspension, fresh off signing a long-term deal.
If Smith couldn't crack the All-Star roster last season, he isn't even in the conversation this year.
All-Star Odds: 1.5%
2013-14 was supposed to be Iman Shumpert's breakout campaign. Following a postseason filled with clutch threes and stellar defending, the 23-year-old seemed set to cement his name into the Knicks' list of impact players.
It hasn't turned out that way thus far. Not even close.
The third-year swingman can't find a way to get the ball through the hoop this year, shooting just 37 percent from the field and 33 percent from the arc. Judging Shumpert by his offensive output isn't always the most useful way to evaluate his skill set, but just six points nightly from your starting 2-guard simply isn't enough.
His patented tenacious on-ball defense, although still noteworthy this season, has seemingly regressed a bit from last year. Per 82games.com, Shump has held his shooting guard opponents to a slightly above average PER of 15.8, but his foes at the 3 have posted a mark of 21.2 while netting 23 points per 48 minutes.
With his name mired in trade talks all season, it's no wonder the Georgia Tech product's confidence has been rattled all season long. But whatever the case may be, Shumpert hasn't even come close to matching his late-2012-13 output.
As the season approached, there could've been an outside chance that Shumpert would play his way into All-Star consideration. Some say he's a rare Knick with "star" potential, and this was set to be his first full 82-game season with a complete training camp.
Unfortunately for the player and the team, this may have been a delusion after all.
All-Star Odds: 3%
If it weren't for star power, this 31-year-old forward wouldn't have a lot to warrant an NBA career at this point. His six All-Star appearances and past reputation as an elite scorer have managed to keep Amar'e Stoudemire's name relevant over the last couple of years, despite health troubles and a subsequent fade to insignificance.
His name may be enough to garner some tallies in the fan voting, but Amar'e's impact in the league is far from noteworthy these days. He's not a viable candidate to sniff the East's All-Star lineup, either.
It took him several weeks to return to game shape, and after being overused by Mike Woodson over a five-games-in-seven-nights stretch, Stoudemire will be forced to rest, according to the New York Daily News.
There's been a bit of controversy regarding just how banged up Stoudemire is. Per Frank Isola's report:
Using his @Amareisreal account, Stoudemire tweeted: “Fans, IM NOT INJURED, just want u to know I’m ONLY stay’n bk bc of 6 games n 9 days w/ bk2bks! Body & Knees feel great!”
Through his first 11 games, he shot just 44 percent on five shots per game, scoring five on average over 15 minutes. He couldn't explode vertically or side to side, and was a predictable, out of sorts black hole with the ball. On defense, Stoudemire may have been even worse than he's been in years past, which is an incredibly difficult ebb to reach.
He has since improved his fit and output with the Knicks, but it's been proven numerous times over the last two seasons that Stoudemire is capable of nothing beyond role-player minutes anymore.
The most the Knicks can ask of Stoudemire in 2013-14 is 20 minutes nightly, to sink at least half his shots, and to not be a complete liability on defense. Amar'e has already played his last All-Star Game minutes.
All-Star Odds: 5.5%
Andrea Bargnani's name hasn't been uttered in a fruitful context since David Stern triumphantly announced him as the first European-born player to be selected first in the NBA Draft in 2006.
To find a former first-overall draft selection who posted a lesser win shares per 48 minutes mark, you'd need to trace back to Michael Olowokandi in 1998. After a failed seven seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Bargnani is attempting to establish a new legacy with the Knicks. It's still not working.
With Tyson Chandler missing six weeks after breaking his leg, Bargnani has averaged 33 minutes. He's shot better than 50 percent in only seven of his 20 games post-Chandler, equating to a 44.4 percent clip overall and 28.8 from distance. He's barely hauled in five boards per game this year.
Simply put, he's a poor shooting center that specializes in three-point shooting. This isn't only a poor fit on the Knicks, but it's a poor recipe for success on any NBA roster.
Now, due to pure volume and a semi-flashy 15 points per game average, Bargnani may garner some respect around the league if that number stays in tact after Chandler returns. But Bargnani has averaged those 14.9 points on 13.2 shots, and gotten to the free-throw line at the second-worst rate of his career.
Bargnani's numbers may be a bit inflated thanks to volume, but he, too, won't sniff the All-Star debate. Those averages will likely fall back down to earth once Chandler returns.
All-Star Odds: 19.5%
Despite missing 20 games with a fractured leg, Tyson Chandler remains one of the best true centers in the NBA. If the Knicks' middle man performs anything like his early-season dominance upon his return, Chandler will have a serious shot at clinching his second straight All-Star appearance.
Even though it was only over three games, Chandler looked determined to shake off a miserable playoff output last season, when he was riddled with a season's worth of injuries. Over his three full games, he averaged nine points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. He hauled in 25 percent of the defensive rebounds available while he was on the floor, and the team allowed just 92 points per 100 possessions with him on.
With Joakim Noah suffering through a down year and Brook Lopez battling injuries, Chandler doesn't have much competition at the position in the East if he returns as great as he was early. With no "center" designation in All-Star selections anymore—the league opted for simply "frontcourt" and "backcourt" a few years back—there's no lock that a center will even make the roster.
When it comes down to coaches' selections, however, the men in charge would be wise to select at least one center-sized body for the game. It could even come down to Chandler and Roy Hibbert for the East's best center argument by season's end, if Brook Lopez continues to struggle staying on the floor.
All-Star Odds: 70%
Not much has gone in the Knicks' favor this season, but Carmelo Anthony is not the man to point fingers at. In fact, the team is wasting an incredible stretch by their star during this early portion of the season.
After a slow shooting start, Anthony has posted a 52-percent mark and 48 percent from beyond the arc over his last eight games. On the season, he's averaged more than 26 points and a career-high nine boards to boot.
He's getting to the line more than seven times per game and connecting on 85 percent. He's playing almost as efficiently as last season, coming up just tenths of a point shy right now of his 24.8 PER from last year.
He's leading the league in minutes at 39.2 per game, which, is stubborn and careless on Mike Woodson's part. But it's led to great short-term rewards and incredible individual performances by Anthony. Just no wins.
Anthony will almost certainly be voted in as a starter by fans, alongside Paul George and LeBron James in the frontcourt (Thanks, David Stern, for this potential LeBron-at-the-5 lineup!). Record be damned, 'Melo deserves all the personal recognition he can get. He's been incredible.