It’s indisputable that the Knicks have been bad in the post-Camby days. One sign of a weak team is the lack of a definitive best player. That is the team is led by a few third or fourth fiddles which allows for discussion and debate on who is actually the team’s best player. For instance, who was the best player of the 2003 team, Houston or Sprewell? Perhaps during the mid-00′s you might claim that Marbury was the Knicks best player, but I’m sure there are some that would deny it on the basis of his poor defense and non-existent leadership ability. I would say that David Lee was their best player for a couple of seasons, but at the time Crawford & Curry seemed to be the Knicks future and for the latter years some others would choose Al Harrington.
Needless to say this year’s team doesn’t have this identity problem. In 2011, Amar’e Stoudemire is unquestionably the team’s best player. For Knick fans this is probably a good sign, but for those that enjoy the debate sports affords this is less than ideal. However with the top spot spoken for, I’ll turn my attention to the next position. That is who is the Knicks next most valuable player? Here are the leading candidates:
Danilo Gallinari – The Knicks are 6-2 when Gallo scores 16 or more points and 6-1 when Gallo hits 3 or more treys. Obviously Stoudemire, like any other star in the NBA, needs a second scorer to take the load off his shoulders. Gallo is the only Knick with both a TS% above 60% and pts/36 above 17 (60.4% ts% and 17.1 pts/36). Even though he’s commonly thought of as a downtown bomber, Gallo is making his mark from the free throw line. He’s increased his attempts per 36 minutes from 4.0 to 6.5, good enough for second best on the team and almost double that of the next player.
Wilson Chandler – Has Wilson Chandler finally turned the corner? To be honest I haven’t been high on his odds on him becoming a quality NBA starter. This year Chandler is averaging career highs in blocks (2.2 blk/36), points (18.7 pts/36), 3p% (33.8%), and TS% (53.7%). Although Wilson is not as efficient as Gallo, he’s second on the team in points per minute and adds an element of defense in shot blocking that Gallo doesn’t provide. His improvement has been visible to the naked eye, and he’s been a much more exciting and root able player to watch.
Ronny Turiaf – I was doubtful that Turiaf could provide enough production to become the team’s starting center. However it appears that his lack of health that has been the only thing that has limited Turiaf. So far this season, he’s played in only 319 minutes, good enough for the 7th best. He’s first in the team in true shooting percentage (64.2%), despite his limited scoring (7.9 pts/36). But it’s his defense that puts Turiaf in the discussion. He leads the team in blocks (2.6 blk/36), and according to 82games.com the Knicks are 7.8 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor.
Raymond Felton – Admit it, if I didn’t put Felton on this list you might have forgotten him. While many concentrate on Felton’s failures in D’Antoni’s offense, his yield is far beyond what he’s produced in his career. The former Tar Heel is playing out of his mind. He’s second on the team in PER (19.4) and is shooting a robust 58.4% TS%. Felton is playing so well, that if he is having a career month and heads into a nosedive, his decline will be noticeable.
Honorable Mention: Landry Fields – I love him. You love him. I’d be curious of any Knick fan that doesn’t. He plays an extremely intelligent and efficient brand of basketball. He’s a low volume (13..3 pts/36) high efficiency (62.7%) player coupled with excellent rebounding (8.6 reb/36). It took Knick fans 3-5 years before they warmed up to David Lee, but maybe his departure has given New York an appreciation for such talents. As much as I like him, I don’t think he’s the second best Knick. At least not yet.
Who is the Knicks Second Best Player?
- Raymond Felton (60%, 340 Votes)
- Danilo Gallinari (20%, 112 Votes)
- Landry Fields (10%, 56 Votes)
- Wilson Chandler (7%, 42 Votes)
- Ronny Turiaf (3%, 13 Votes)
Total Voters: 563