NBA Power Rankings: The Best Defenders on the New York Knicks
But a little more quietly, the Knicks are stinking again, losing four of their last six, including, ugh, dropping one to the L.A. Clippers at home on Wednesday night.
The Clippers, still one of the worst teams in the league (Blake Griffin or no Blake Griffin), came into the Garden averaging 99 points per game, but scored 116 against New York, including 17 in the last four and a half minutes. That's worthy of a nose-pinching, for sure.
In fact, the Knicks gave up the following number of points in the four losses: 111, 113, 100 and 116. They gave up 103 and 106 in the two wins.
The Knicks are, egad, 29th (next to last) in opponents' points allowed. They yield 106.2 points per game.
It's great the Knicks are relevant again, but fans can forget about any sort of deep playoff run with this kind of defense - if New York even makes the postseason. What? Yes.
The Knicks need a win tonight against the visiting Lakers to stay over .500. And don't look now, but they're just 4.5 games from the ninth slot in the East. In seventh and eighth, the 76ers and the Pacers are nipping at the Knicks' heels, just 2.5 and 3.5 games behind, respectively.
The Knicks need to turn their defense around and quick.
With that in mind, if the Knicks are considering any trades before the deadline (Feb. 24, 3PM ET), they may want to take an inventory of their best defensive players - and keep them.
Here are all 13 Knicks players ranked and graded according to their defense and how this might come into play come trade time.
13. Andy Rautins, G
There is little NBA data on Andy Rautins. The Knicks selected the rookie out of Syracuse in the second round of the 2010 draft. He's played just 19 minutes in four games.
So, how was he in college then? Rautins was known for his perimeter shooting, especially his three-pointer. But he showed a little flash on the other side of the ball, and in his final year was second in the Big East in steals (both total and per game).
Defensive Assessment: Incomplete. Rautins is expendable at this juncture and might even draw some interest in a package.
12. Roger Mason, SG
Veteran Roger Mason has entered only 10 games for his new team. For the most part, his is a journeyman's career as a role player off the bench. Defense is not a big part of his game.
Defensive Assessment: D. It's almost unfair to grade Mason, but he's played long enough in the league and his limited time on the floor this year show he is not a reliable defensive player. Tradeable, but demand is non-existent.
11. Bill Walker, SG
Bill Walker is not bad on offense - he averages 4.5 points per his 12 minutes or so: that's 16 points for a full game.
Defense, though, is another story. He is a shooting guard, but still manages to only get about 1 steal per game. Forget about rebounds and blocks.
Defensive Assessment: D. If the Knicks need to package Walker, they will highlight his offensive potential.
10. Anthony Randolph, PF
Anthony Randolph's budding career is on the downturn - it could be resuscitated, just not with the Knicks, as D'Antoni won't play him.
Randolph's numbers, both offense and defense, have fallen off this year, and it's not a consequence of lack of playing time either. He only played 33 games with Golden State last season and his statline was far superior (11.6 vs 1.9 PPG, for example).
His defense has diminished as well: 1.5 vs .5 BPG, 6.5 vs 2.5 RPG and .8 vs .2 SPG.
Defensive Assessment: D. It's time for Randolph to go, but for who or what? Word is it will be for a draft pick, especially if a Carmelo Anthony trade goes down.
9. Timofey Mozgov, C
It's pretty bad when a 7'1" center has no defensive game.
The Mozgov show has become a bit of an attraction whenever the Blake Griffin Clippers' Circus rolls into town. Everyone remembers Griffin's monster dunk over a statuesque Mozgov, whose cement boots made Tony Soprano proud. Since then, there's been this dunk competition going on between the two.
But Mozgov's been getting the start lately and showing some offensive muscle, but yeah he plays no D.
Don't just stand there! Crash the boards, Timofey!
Defensive Assessment: D+. It's possible the Mozgov show is just the Knicks way of showcasing Timofey for a possible trade. He's making some highlight reels, just not on defense.
8. Danilo Gallinari, F
Danilo, a true D'Antoni disciple, is eighth. He's that bad on defense.
Oddly, the best part of Gallinari's defense is stealing. Everything else - rebounds, defensive rebounds and blocks - are woeful, especially considering the 6'10" forward's playing time.
Defensive Assessment: C-. Gallinari is very tradeable, and it would not hurt the Knicks defensively. They'd need to make up for his 16 PPG, however.
7. Toney Douglas, G
Toney Douglas has improved in every defensive category this season from his rookie term last year.
He has become a steals-specialist of sorts and has the second most on the team behind Raymond Felton. He forces a turnover 2.5 times per 48 minutes, which would make him best on team (but plays only half the time).
Defensive Assessment: C. There is potential for Douglas to become one of the better defending guards in the Eastern Conference. He needs more playing time but probably won't get much more until he improves his 40% shooting, worst of the Knicks' regulars. He's tradeable, but the Knicks might want to take another look at what Toney brings to the defensive table.
6. Shawne Williams, SF
Believe it or not, Shawne Williams is flying under the radar - at least in terms of his play.
He's quietly having the best year of his career and dishing out some respectable defense. He knows where to be and his numbers show it, with 2.5 defensive rebounds per 18 minutes. That's a serious number.
He's got good head smarts, fire in the belly and isn't afraid to get physical.
Defensive Assessment: C+. It's hard to get Williams more time with Wilson Chandler taking care of business, but you wonder if Williams could spell Gallinari every now and then, too. It could work. Tough to trade Williams with his baggage right now and his fight in Atlanta didn't help (even though it wasn't his fault).
5. Raymond Felton, PG
Raymond Felton is great. He's the best Knicks point guard since John Starks. He's playing way above his head, scoring 17 PPG and leading the high-scoring Knicks in that (forgive me) "high-octane" D'Antoni offense.
Felton leads the team in steals (fifth in the league in fact) but he's not disruptive enough of other teams' offenses.
Defensive Assessment: B-. The truth is Felton's overall game, including his defense, has improved, but let's face it, no opponents are drawing up plays to work around him. He could participate a tad more off the boards, too. As far as trading goes though, Felton is untouchable.
4. Landry Fields, G
Wait a second, that's not Landry Fields...
4. Landry Fields, G
There he is. Clearly, Spike Lee knows a thing or two about basketball. Landry's doing all the right things.
The second-round rookie starter has quickly made himself known around the league for, amongst other things, crashing the boards. He's the second best rebounder on the team straight up and if you account for minutes, he pulls down more defensive rebounds than Amar'e Stoudemire.
There is a lot of competition this year, but Fields will still be in the Rookie of the Year conversation.
Defensive Assessment: B-. It's just the prologue for Fields, but the next chapter will possibly be in another uniform, as his name has been bandied about as part of multiple trade packages, primarily the one involving Carmelo Anthony. It would be a shame to lose Fields.
3. Wilson Chandler, SF
Tatooed tough-guy Wilson Chandler is a presence to be reckoned with.
He plays bigger than his 6'8" frame and is the second best blocker and third best rebounder on the team. He steals and disrupts, too.
Defensive Assessment: B. Wilson Chandler has come into his own this year, his best. Lately, though, Mozgov has been starting at center, relegating Chandler to the bench. Does that mean Wilson will be the one to go?
2. Ronny Turiaf, C
Ronny Turiaf has never been a starter in his six-year career. Makes you wonder how incredible his stats would be if he were. Unfortunately, he's prone to breakdown and appears not able to handle too many minutes. Perhaps this is what makes him so potent off the bench, though.
In just 18 minutes per game he blocks more than 1 shot and pulls down three and a half rebounds, and causes general havok with his inspired and erratic play. He's like throwing a wrench in the opponent's offensive works.
Defensive Assessment: B. Somehow, the Knicks need to get Ronny Turiaf more time. New York can go small ball a little more often and start Turiaf over Chandler and definitely Mozgov. Turiaf's name has not come up in trade talk, which is probably good for the Knicks, as they need all the defensive help they can get.
1. Amar'e Stoudemire, SF
Amar'e Stoudemire is the best defender on the Knicks and is notably changing the opinions of many regarding his defensive reputation.
The undisputed emotional and statistical leader of the Knicks is doing it all, but like the rest of the team, isn't particularly feared for his defensive specialties.
Still, he is the leader in rebounds and blocks and even steals pretty well for a big man who is the center of the team's offense.
That being said, there is certainly room for improvement in Stoudemire's, and the rest of the Knicks' defensive play. Amar'e is too often too far away from the ball to make any defensive waves.
Defensive Assessment: B+. Amar'e is the team MVP and the best player the Knicks have had since Patrick Ewing.
I could not responsibly give anyone on the team an A for defense.
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Need more? Check out Knicks Featured Columnist Paul Kasabian's take in Knicks: 5 Defensive Issues and 5 Solutions for a look at the Knicks' D beyond the numbers.