Final Regular-Season Grades for Every NY Knicks Player
There are many to blame for the Knicks' downfall in 2013-14, but amid the team's struggles, there were a few impressive performances that kept them competitive towards the end of the year.
With no draft picks and limited spending money in free agency, Jackson and the front office will have some tough decisions to make in prioritizing which positions need an upgrade and which can stay put until 2015.
Let's go back and grade every single Knicks player for his play this past season in relation to expectations and overall performance compared to each other.
There isn't much to say about Cole Aldrich's play this season. He did manage to appear in 46 games, but failed to impress in the playing time he was given until the very end of the campaign.
By the end of the season, Aldrich was averaging a double-double per 36 minutes, but don't let that fool you into thinking he was a capable back-up. The numbers are inflated by three good games towards the end of the year.
Aldrich can't be blamed for the Knicks' struggles, but the team did choose him over training camp standout Ike Diogu, and he did little to prove them right for that decision until later on.
Carmelo Anthony did everything in his power to push New York into the playoffs this season, but it wasn't enough. Had the rest of the team shown up, though, make no mistake that Melo would have been an MVP contender once again in 2013-14.
Offensively, Anthony's year was not dissimilar to the campaign that saw him win the scoring title last season. The only difference is that he averaged 1.3 fewer points and shot a better percentage from outside.
What was impressive about Anthony this time around is that he improved in other areas, namely rebounding, passing and defense.
Melo even broke the franchise record for scoring in a game with a 62-point night in January; a game that appears just as out of place in the context of this season as Anthony does on a subpar team like this.
The one downside to Melo's season was his inability to perform in the clutch. Anthony has built a reputation as one of the league's best closers, but one wouldn't have known it based on his late-game performances.
Melo isn't completely to blame for his late-game struggles (it would help if there were other offensive threats on the floor), but players on his level are expected to get the job done regardless.
At this point, there's no debate as to whether or not the Knicks made a mistake trading for Andrea Bargnani. He's a poor fit, and for the most-part, having him on the roster hurt the team more than it helped them.
With that said, Bargnani can't be blamed for the trade itself. He played his part until injury cut his season short, improving his offensive production, defense and rebounding last year.
There were still a significant number of embarrassing plays on Bargnani's end (including the one that ended his season). He particularly struggled on defense where his positioning while covering Tyson Chandler at center was woeful.
As a one-on-one defender, Bargnani was solid, but that's always been the case. The Knicks needed more from him, but he doesn't have the fire to add new elements to his game—something the Toronto Raptors found out long ago.
If nothing else, Shannon Brown did enough this season to turn a 10-day contract into guaranteed money, and may just have saved his NBA career in the process.
Brown played in only 19 games for New York, so there isn't much to go by, but he's clearly still an athletic force who plays solid defense, even if his production as a scorer and passer was close to non-existent.
It remains to be seen if Brown did enough to earn a training camp invite next season. Knowing that he's played for Phil Jackson before, it's likely that we may see him in orange and blue again at some point.
Without a doubt, this past season was Tyson Chandler's worst as a member of the Knicks. For the first time in years, he'll likely be on the outside looking in when the All-Defensive teams are selected.
Chandler's struggles are understandable given the limited help he received and the injuries he faced, but a player getting paid $14 million to essentially do one thing needs to be better at it.
As the season progressed, Chandler's form improved and by mid-March he was back to the level we've come to expect from him, but by then it proved to be too late to turn the season around.
Going into the last year of his contract, Chandler will need to prove he can stay healthy and play at an All-Defensive level for a full season, or the Knicks won't hesitate to renounce their rights to him as a free agent when they look for upgrades in the summer of 2015.
Of all the Knicks' disappointments this past season, Raymond Felton is by far the biggest.
While J.R. Smith and Tyson Chandler improved late in the year, Felton struggled throughout, posting career-lows across the board.
Just over a year ago, Felton looked like the perfect low-cost option for the Knicks' starting point guard job, providing penetration and shooting—even if he struggled on the defensive end.
Now, though, he's ineffective on both ends of the floor and he is even in turmoil off the court, after his arrest for gun possession in February.
The Knicks don't have many alternatives, but it's hard to see Felton returning as the starter next season. Even if it means spending the entire mini mid-level exception, they need to find an upgrade.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Outside of Carmelo Anthony, one of the few things that made New York worth watching this season was the play of Tim Hardaway Jr., who exceeded all expectations in his rookie season.
The 2014 draft will go down as one of the weakest in recent memory, but the Knicks got an absolute steal at No. 24 with Hardaway appearing to be a lock for the All-Rookie First Team.
As a shooter, we knew going into the year that Hardaway had NBA range, but it's the confidence, athleticism and understanding of the game he supplemented it with that made his rookie campaign so successful.
Hardaway looks set for a long and successful NBA career. At the very least, he'll be an important role player for the foreseeable future, and if he improves the rest of his game, the sky really is the limit.
Back in 2012-13, Kenyon Martin looked like a new man when he came in and saved the Knicks' season, but he has reverted to the norm for an aging big in 2013-14.
Martin struggled with injury all season long and was almost completely ineffective the few times we saw him in action.
To be fair to Martin, most of his appearances came early on when Tyson Chandler was out, but that doesn't change the fact that we were watching a player edge closer and closer to the end of his career.
For a team that had so little production at point guard, it's curious that the Knicks didn't give Toure' Murry more action during the 2013-14 season.
When he did play, Murry's numbers were underwhelming, but he was solid defensively, shot efficiently and at least looked worthy of more playing time.
Murry's height and versatility will likely keep him on New York's roster as a utility player next season, and as he continues to gain NBA experience, we could see him grow into a legitimate role player.
Pablo Prigioni plays a very specific role for the Knicks, and his performance was almost identical to how it was last year where he was hailed as a glue guy and one of the keys to the Knicks' dynamic offense.
Unfortunately, Prigioni's contributions are much harder to see when those around him aren't performing and hitting shots, as he's not a player who likes to score himself. He prides himself on always finding the open man.
On the defensive end, Prigioni took a step back, but was still one of New York's better players in that regard. He was also one of the team's few efficient shooters, even if that was more down to his reluctance to shoot than anything else.
Iman Shumpert may be a fan favorite in New York, but going into the third year of his NBA career he had serious expectations and failed to meet them.
Outside of his impressive Texas road trip (in which he averaged 20.7 points and 5.3 rebounds against the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks), Shumpert was a non-factor for much of the year on offense.
In the past, Shumpert's saving grace has been his defense, but he made plenty of mental errors and never really shut anyone down as he has in the past.
Shumpert did have surgery in the offseason, which no doubt was a factor, but the bottom line is that this is a guy who has completely lost his confidence amid constant trade rumors.
Inconsistent has always been the best word to describe J.R. Smith, and that was no different in 2013-14.
Typically, we see Smith perform well one game and poorly the next, but it was a little different this time around. He played horribly for the entire first half of the season, but then turned it around and played Sixth-Man-of-the-Year level ball down the stretch.
Going on his early performance alone, Smith would earn an F, but he was frankly one of the team's best players towards the end of the year—and a big reason why they finished the season on a 16-5 run.
Smith also broke the NBA record for three-pointers in a three-game stretch and managed to raise his overall field-goal percentage to 42 percent after hovering around 35 percent until January, which is fairly impressive on its own.
Though he may not be a superstar anymore, Amar'e Stoudemire has done a fantastic job of adopting his new role as a key player off the bench.
STAT actually posted All-Star level per 36 minute numbers of 19 points and 7.9 rebounds on 56 percent shooting off the bench for New York, stepping up down the stretch as they made a last-minute run for the playoffs.
If nothing else, Stoudemire has extended his career, avoiding serious injury and proving that he can handle life after losing much of his physical ability.
Heading into the last year of his contract, Stoudemire may just be a remotely attractive trade piece for New York. Even if he stays, could be a contributor for a few more years if a reasonable deal is negotiated once he hits free agency in 2015.
It's not saying much, but Jeremy Tyler ultimately proved to be the Knicks' best back-up center after returning from injury in January.
Like Cole Aldrich, he averaged an efficient double-double per 36 minutes, and actually had a few standout games in early February before fading away for the rest of the season.
The Knicks couldn't have asked for much more from an inexperienced player who was in the D-League just a year ago, but he wasn't enough of a difference-maker to earn a higher grade.
Beno Udrih wasn't great for the Knicks in 2013-14, but you could certainly make the case that he deserved the starting point guard job over Raymond Felton.
After a falling out with Mike Woodson and the front office, Udrih was bought out in February, but his frustration was understandable given that he took a pay cut to be in New York under the assumption that they'd be a playoff team.
Udrih had about 10 really good games, but often followed them up with duds, which is the kind of inconsistency that was symbolic of the Knicks' entire season.
Neither the Knicks nor Udrih came away happy from this situation, with Udrih expecting a better team and the Knicks looking for more out of someone with so much experience.
Metta World Peace
Not many of the Knicks' major free-agent signings made much of a difference in 2013-14, but by far the worst of the lot was Metta World Peace, who spent more time on Twitter than on the court.
World Peace averaged just 4.8 points in the 19 games he played for New York before being bought out in February along with Beno Udrih.
It's not entirely his fault as injuries held him back more than anything, but the Knicks lacked leadership and experience this season and expected World Peace to provide it.
All in all, this was just a very confusing situation. It was never 100 percent clear why he wasn't in the rotation or why he was released, and by late March it was reported by the NY Post that he actually wanted to return to the team.