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New York Knicks Mid-Season Report Card

By Jared Dubin
Follow me on Twitter: @JADubin5

After tonight’s loss to the Rockets, the New York Knicks are exactly halfway through the 2010-11 regular season with a record of 22-19 and stand at 6th place in the Eastern Conference. They started slow, reeled off an incredible hot streak in December, but have cooled considerably in 2011. The first half was marked by quality wins against Chicago, Oklahoma City, Denver and San Antonio, hard-fought defeats at the hands of Boston, Miami, and Orlando and terrible losses to Cleveland, Sacramento and Phoenix. It’s unquestionable that the Knicks are back to playing solid basketball and they look like a playoff team, but that’s not enough for many New York fans. I’m happy to see the team playing well and I like the young core, but the team has been slipping in recent weeks and its entirely possible they could be on a 6-game losing streak when they return home from this current road trip. Not all has been bad however, as the Knicks currently would face the Chicago Bulls in a first round series if the playoffs began today. Of course the midway point of the season calls for a mid-season report card, with letter grades handed out to every member of the team, from Donnie Walsh on down.

Kelenna Azubuike – Azubuike has yet to play this year and has had multiple setbacks in his rehab. At this point, it looks like he might not play at all.
Grade: Incomplete

Wilson Chandler – December was probably the best month of Chandler’s career. He averaged about 18 points and 7 rebounds per game on 53% shooting to go with 41% from three. He looked like he was on his way to becoming the player everyone wanted him to be until the last 3 or 4 games in which he has shot under 40% from the field, 20% from three and gone to the free throw line just four times total. A week ago, I would have given him an A. Now, not so much. He’s seemingly gone back to the previous years’ version since the calendar flipped to 2011. Very talented and very capable player, but doesn’t always put it all together.
Grade: B+

Eddy Curry – Curry’s salary is sitting on the Knicks’ books until Donnie Walsh decides to pull the trigger on a trade for Carmelo Anthony or until the trade deadline passes and he is bought out.
Grade: Incomplete

Toney Douglas – After a hot start to the season, Toney has REALLY cooled off. His struggles to run the offense with the second unit are a big reason for the declining play of the next guy on this list. Douglas’ inability to command the half-court or full-court offense has led to Raymond Felton having to play entirely too many minutes. It’s no surprise the Knicks are looking at backup point guards in the trade market, since Douglas is probably a shooting guard.
Grade: C-

Raymond Felton – Felton was playing and looking like an All-Star for the better part of the first half of the season until a rash of injuries hit. He’s slowed down considerably over the last few weeks, and his shooting has been flat out horrible lately. Nevertheless, his improved play overall and his leadership have been one of the main catalysts for the Knicks’ turnaround this season. If he starts knocking down open jumpers at the rate he did earlier this season, he’ll more than justify the Knicks’ investment in him.
Grade: B+

Landry Fields – Landry is still humming along leading all NBA guards in rebounding. He’s not flashy, he won’t wow you in any way, and his jumper is hella-ugly, but he’s solid and consistent and an absolute pleasure to watch play basketball. Picking this guy up with the 39th pick in the draft is one of the bigger steals I can remember this team ever getting.
Grade: A

Danilo Gallinari – Gallo’s recent knee injury was one of the downs in what has been an up-and-down season for the Italian. He’s still one of the better shooters in the NBA, but he absolutely has to be more aggressive and assert himself more on offense. He’s got a well-rounded game, but rarely shows it. When he does, he’s proven he can be an explosive scorer (like the 2nd half of the first Boston game, and the 1st half of the first Miami game), but those situations are far too infrequent. Maybe he’s been affected by constantly being included in trade rumors.
Grade: B-

Roger Mason Jr. – Mason is one of my least favorite Knicks in a while. Supposedly a great three-point shooter, he has yet to make one as a Knick. He only gets off the bench in blowouts, and that one game where Toney Douglas was only supposed to play in an “emergency,” which he did because Mason was terrible earlier in the game.
Grade: F

Timofey Mozgov – When the Moz made his first two shots of the season, I thought the Knicks had a nice find on their hands. But he’s struggled to do everything from catching the ball to not fouling and is no longer a contributor. He didn’t even get in games when Ronny Turiaf was hurt, with D’Antoni instead opting to go small and force opposing teams to react, which hasn’t exactly been that successful.
Grade: C

Anthony Randolph – Ugh. So much talent. Seemingly so little smarts. Randolph’s basketball IQ is microscopic. He rarely knows where to be on the floor, and when he does, he just stands there. Otherwise he runs around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to block shots, shoot long, contested jumpers and turn the ball over. You can see the raw ability oozing from his long limbs, but the kid really just does not know how to play the game of basketball. Most disappointing player on the team.
Grade: D

Andy Rautins – Rautins made a three in a blowout recently. I’d like to see him make some more of them and actually run the point in the D-League, but the Knicks have never once used the D-League for its intended purpose (to develop players), so don’t count on it.
Grade: Incomplete

Amar’e Stoudemire – Simply put, STAT has to be on your MVP short list, or you shouldn’t have one. He’s invigorated the team, the city, and the Garden like nobody else since Patrick Ewing. He’s the Knicks best player, best scorer, and from the looks of it, best teammate. Everyone raves about how hard he works and how dedicated he is to his craft of knocking down jumpers and dunking on people’s heads. His outside shooting is the thing I’ve been most impressed with this year, along with his shotblocking. I could not be more satisfied with his performance so far. He needs to stabilize this team going forward and lead them to the playoffs.
Grade: A

Ronny Turiaf – Turiaf is not only one of the best Tweeters in the league, but he also has one of the best beards. He also plays pretty solid defense. He definitely needs to stay on the floor, as he seems to have trouble doing. He’s missed stretches of games 2 or 3 times already this season. He’s the Knicks’ best interior defender, and an underrated passer as well. Solid rotation player.
Grade: B+

Bill Walker – Walker is quite an enigma. He lost a lot of weight in the offseason, but somehow looks like he moves slower. He’s still knocking down threes like he did last season. He’s also still not doing much else like he did last season. His play has picked up of late and he was solid while Danilo was hurt. If he enters the dunk contest, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some fireworks.
Grade: B-

Shawne Williams – Extra E is the man. Not really much else I can say. He leads the league in three point percentage at around 63%. His long arms help when the Knicks run their press against backup point guards. He fought Bill Walker in practice. Just a nice bench player who can provide both offense and defense.
Grade: B+

Mike D’Antoni – His rotations have been questionable at times, and he’s failed to get anything out of Anthony Randolph. However, he saw the team struggling early in the season and cut his rotation down to 8 players and the Knicks vaulted into the playoff picture immediately after. He needs to do a better job motivating the team to play under-.500 squads, which has been a problem in the last few weeks. He knows the team is not quite there yet, but improving. The people who were calling for his job earlier in the season have certainly quieted down, but he still needs to show improvement in the second half of the season.
Grade: B+

Donnie Walsh – Walsh did a great job assembling this team. Arguably, his only offseason misfire was the David Lee trade, and everything else has panned out pretty well. A lot of Knicks fans got on him for choosing Shawne Williams over Patrick Ewing Jr. to make the roster, but that has turned out nicely. Amar’e is an MVP candidate and Felton is an important leadership cog. He has played some masterful poker in the Carmelo Anthony situation, and just refuses to gut the team to acquire another superstar. It seems to have paid off because the Nets have dropped out of the race, leaving the Knicks as #15’s likeliest destination.
Grade: A

3 comments:

  1. Yep you can't say enough about Amar'e, now if we could just add one more proven big time player? hm? I would agree with you that Walsh has earned his keep this year he just needs to keep working those phones.

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  2. Walsh has been the best Knick so far this season. Really could not be more satisfied with what he's shown me so far. He knows what he will and won't give up to get Amar'e that second supertar, and he won't go above and beyond his best offer. Everyone thinks Carmelo wants to come here anyway, so why empty the cupboard to get him in a trade? Great, great job.

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  3. Man the report card grades are going down quick, I hope this hasn't been because of the trade talk getting in players heads.

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