The New York Knicks have had a rough couple of years, having missed the playoffs for the past three seasons, losing two beloved players in J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, and watching their superstar Forward Carmelo Anthony addled with injuries. But with a legitimate team in Madison Square Garden, consisting of a rising young big man in Kristaps Porzingis, a reborn point guard in Derrick Rose, and a steady veteran scorer in Carmelo Anthony, I think the Knicks are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The only question now is, who’s the best player on this up-and-coming NY team? At the quarter point of the season, I say the answer is still Melo.
Derrick Rose: The Chicago born PG made his way to the big apple in a big offseason trade, and since his arrival, Rose has been good for the Knicks. The former MVP is averaging a solid 17 points, five assists, a career high 4.2 rebounds, and is shooting a solid percentage from the floor at 44%. More importantly, Rose has looked both comfortable and confident on the floor, more than can be said for him in his last couple of seasons. Rose has also been a solid floor general for the Knickerbockers, as he is averaging the fewest turnovers of his career since his MVP campaign in 2010-’11. But is Derrick Rose the Knicks best player? I say no. Derrick Rose is not the player he once was, something that is not his fault, but a fact nonetheless; Rose is a solid starting point guard in this league, but he is not much more than that. His inability to shoot the three with any consistency, 25% this year, while not debilitating is a detriment to the Knicks, and his sub-par assist percentages at 23% need to increase as well. Rose is a good player, he is a good teammate and a valuable member of the Knicks, but he is not their best player.
Kristaps Porzingis: This is where the debate gets exciting. Kristaps Porzingis came into New York as an unknown kid from Latvia that looked too skinny and too goofy to be any good; yet with his exciting play and unwillingness to turn on the people of NY in his rookie campaign, KP has become a beloved figure in all of New York. The story is only getting better, as it seems that Kristaps’ game is growing as his popularity is. The Porzingod is averaging a nice 21 points (seven more than last year), seven boards, one assist, a block and a half, and is shooting the lights out from three at 40% (up from his 33% mark last year). There is no doubt that Porzingis is getting better, but is he the best player on the Knicks? I still say no, at least not yet. While Porzingis is knocking on the door of becoming the best baller on the NYK, he is not yet there. The Latvian big is well over seven feet tall, yet averages a mere seven rebounds a game, this needs to improve for Porzingis to be considered a more well-rounded player. Porzingis’ passing is also not excellent, as I would like to see him getting at least two assists a game as he develops; finally, Porzingis has taken a slight step backwards defensively this year, and he must correct this for the sake of the team. Kristaps is going to be a great player, and is a very good one now, but until he fully develops he will be second fiddle on the Knicks for a bit longer.
Carmelo Anthony: Melo is only attempting 4.7 free throws per game, he has a plus minus of -0.6, and is only averaging 2.6 assists…is he really the best player on the Knicks? Yes. On this Knicks team, at this point in Carmelo Anthony’s basketball career, he is doing exactly what he needs to do for the team and is a large reason the Knicks are sitting as the seven seed in the East at the quarter point in the season. Melo is putting up 22.6 points a night, averaging six rebounds, two assists, stealing the ball once a night, and is shooting 43% from the field and 34% from deep. None of these stats are outstanding, but they are big when taken into context regarding the state of the Knicks. As the team leader, Melo is doing his job when it counts; he is averaging a career best 1.9 turnovers a game, has a player efficiency rating of 19.4, and most importantly, is the guy the Knicks go to when the games on the line. As the closer on the Knicks, Melo has been doing his job this year, and as the teams leader, he has controlled the locker room and helped the new team create a good chemistry in the early parts of the season. Carmelo Anthony is in the latter half of his storied career, but he is still a great player and has a lot to offer this team, something I believe he has proven so far in 2016-’17.
Stats Via ESPN.com/BasketballReference.com
Images Via Google