Even though the Knicks went in to the All-Star break on a losing streak, losing three of their last four, they have far exceeded expectations. No one expected this Knicks team to do as well as they’re doing–first in the Atlantic Division and in second place in the Eastern Conference. Not too shabby for the oldest team in the league.
As NBA fans get ready for tonight’s All-Star game, let’s take a look at how the New York Knicks (32-18) fared in the first half off the season.
Coach Mike Woodson: B+
The Knicks got off to a hot start at the beginning of the season, and the Knicks were playing well on both sides of the ball. And because of that, the Knicks are in a good position. Woodson has had to deal with injuries, he also had to figure out what to do with Amar’e Stoudemire, so it hasn’t been easy for the coach. He’s had to work on shuffling starting lineups and rotations, but he’s done a nice job of doing so for the most part. The only complaint is that he’s giving too many minutes to aging players like Jason Kidd and Ronnie Brewer instead of giving them rest and giving younger players like Chris Copeland a chance.
Carmelo Anthony: A-
Anthony is scoring 28.6 points per game–the league’s leading scorer–and is playing like a man on a mission. He’s a more well-rounded player and he’s been playing MVP ball. His defense needs a bit of work but it definitely has improved. His glass work is decent, averaging 6.5 boards per game. The only thing is that it’s still ‘Melo ball for the most part. Yes, he’s distributing the ball more but he still leads the league in shot attempts.
Tyson Chandler: B+
The center is a first-time All-Star averaging 11.4 points per game and 11.1 rebounds per game. He’s having a good season, but has seen his defensive dominance down low diminish a bit. His leadership on the floor is irreplaceable and if Chandler can continue playing at the same level, that gives the Knicks a good chance of doing big things.
J.R. Smith: B
Smith has been having himself a good season, but is also very inconsistent. He’s had a lot of electric games and two buzzer-beaters, but when he’s off he’s off. Known to be erratic at the worst times, Smith has changed for the better and has played more under control. He’s averaging 16.2 points per game, five assists and 1.3 steals per game. When needed, Smith has carried the team with his play, and is a legitimate candidate for the sixth man award.
Raymond Felton: C+
When Felton missed 12 games with a hand injury, the Knicks weren’t the same. They missed their point guard, and Tyson Chandler’s production was suffering. He’s averaging 14.9 points per game, and 6.3 assists. What is concerning, though, is his defense–guards have been lighting up Felton, or blowing right past him, which has led to a few bad losses for the Knicks.
Jason Kidd: B
Jason Kidd was deadly accurate with his three-point shot at the beginning of the season, shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc. He did a good job of filling in and helping when the Knicks needed him, especially with Shumpert out. But we’ve seen his productivity dip a bit–which may be because of his age. Kidd is 39 years old.
Amar’e Stoudemire: B
There were doubts about Stoudemire and his return. But he has come in embracing his bench role, and is playing good ball. He’s shown he can play with Anthony, and has been very efficient on offense, shooting 56 percent from the field. He’s averaging 13.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Stoudemire has also improved his low-post game. Of course, his defense isn’t where Woodson would like it to be, and he is always a health risk, but the big man has been doing his part so far.
Steve Novak: B-
Steve Novak is one of the league’s best sharp-shooters, shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc, but his numbers have actually decreased from last year’s when he shot 47.2 percent and averaged 8.8 points per game. Still, Novak is dangerous from beyond the arc, and when he’s on fire the Knicks rarely lose. What he does need to do, though, is step it up defensively.
Iman Shumpert: C
Shumpert is still coming back from his ACL injury from last season, so the Knicks haven’t seen the Shumpert from his rookie season. Shumpert has been struggling on both sides of the ball, not really making much of a difference when on the floor. But the Knicks have seen what Shumpert can bring when healthy. The Knicks need his perimeter defense and explosiveness in a big way.
Chris Copeland: C
We’ve seen what Copeland can do on offense and can provide some spark to a slumping Knicks team, but Woodson has decreased his playing time, which may be a mistake. Yes, his defense needs a lot of work, but he can be a key contributor.
Pablo Prigioni: B
Prigioni is doing a good job of coming off the bench. He’s a steady play-making guard that can defend well, but his lack of confidence in his shot hurts him at times.
Ronnie Brewer: C-
Brewer was doing good things for the Knicks at first, coming off the bench or as a starter, but his confidence has disappeared the past couple of months. His shot has become subpar and his defense needs a lot of work.