The Nets-Knicks Power Rankings are back! Devin Kharpertian & Daniel Savitzky rank players, coaches, personnel, and TV crews from 1-39 to answer the crucial question: who’s the King of New York, and who’s in the sewer?
Rankings start… Now.
1) Joe Johnson. Sure, sometimes he moves slower than the G train. But Johnson’s been a smooth surgeon these first four games, picking his spots with ruthless efficiency and dominating lesser defenders en route to the rim for floaters and layups.
I can hear Knicks fans throwing Spike Lee bobblehead dolls at my apartment windows already for this ranking. Think of it this way: Carmelo had more turnovers Monday night (7) than Joe Johnson’s had in the first four games (6). If he keeps this up, the entire borough’s going to sign up for Bikram Yoga classes. -D.K.
2) Carmelo Anthony. When we first looked at these rankings in preseason, Carmelo was first. It wasn’t even close. Armed with a nine-figure contract, free rein to shoot in an offense that tailors itself to wing scorers, we presumed that Melo would take the league — or, at least, the Knicks — by storm, improve on arguably the two best individual seasons of his career, and force a few wistful smiles from twinkling-eyed father figure Phil Jackson.
Nope. Anthony, he of the career 25.2 points per game average, has had more games with under 20 points than above it in the early season, having missed 31 of 44 shots in the past two games. After averaging a career-high 8.1 rebounds per game last season as a revolutionary smallball power forward, Anthony’s aforementioned season-high in turnovers is higher than his season-high in rebounds (6).
He’ll figure it out. He’ll probably figure it out. But for now, he doesn’t look good, and the Knicks have followed his lead. -D.K.
3) Phil Jackson. It’s a new era for the Knicks, and Jackson is right at the heart of it: there’s more accountability and less James Dolan. It’s no coincidence the godfather of The Triangle ranks #3. -D.K.
4) Lionel Hollins. Hollins has rocketed up this list by being the sole member of the Nets who hasn’t let up once in their first four games. While Jason Kidd would cancel practices to get his tee time in, Hollins ran his team into the ground during training camp, with some practices running well over an hour beyond the allotted time, and didn’t shy away from criticizing his players in post-game press conferences.
Throw in his impeccable suits and weird sense of humor, and you’ve got a coach that might actually stick around for a few years in Brooklyn. -D.K.
Lionel Hollins was asked what tempo he wants the Nets to play at. "I want to be like Gladys Knight and The Pips," he said, and then danced.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) October 2, 2014
5) Nets TV. It’s no secret (and this has nothing to do with The Brooklyn Game’s partnership with the YES Network): Ian Eagle & Co. make up the best local broadcast team in the NBA. Ryan Ruocco, Mike Fratello, Jim Spanarkel… I like them all.
I’ll never beat my line from last year’s description of other local broadcasts’ “allergy” to objectivity, so I’ll leave it at this: watching most other local productions is more like following a cheering section than getting a fair look at a game. The Nets aren’t that. As if that weren’t enough, Eagle gives you impeccable Seinfeld references. -D.S.
6) Knicks TV.
Clyde Frazier currently talking about the effect of the full moon on human violence
— netw3rk (@netw3rk) November 6, 2014
Need I say more? -D.K.
7) Deron Williams. I pity Deron Williams for the lashing he took last season, as he was clearly hampered by ailing ankles but unwilling to use them as an excuse until the media pried it out of him on a number of occasions. He was the frequent scapegoat for the Nets’ struggles when he wasn’t barely able to walk after stepping on yet another poorly placed foot.
I got that same sick feeling when the media began digging at the wrap on Williams’ hand late in the preseason, something Williams had no interest in addressing. I’m not saying they’re unfair questions; Deron has suffered from wrist problems in the past that have seriously limited his ability to shoot, and his overall proneness to injury would leave any reporter skeptical.
That said, Williams finally starts a season in the kind of shape he’d like to be in, and he has played vintage Deron Williams basketball so far. But the questions about his hand, which he has bumped a few times in the season’s first four games, persist, and he has to keep dealing with it.
I’d like to appreciate Deron Williams for what he hopes to be this season, instead of what he hopes not to be. Because when he’s on, that’s great basketball to watch. -D.S.
8) Brook Lopez. Full disclosure: Brook Lopez is my favorite player in the NBA, and I went all Quin Snyder on Devin when he proposed ranking Jose Calderon ahead of him here. (ed. note: this is 100% true.)
I know Lopez has his shortcomings, including nearly unparalleled slowness and a puzzling aversion to rebounding, but the guy flat-out finds ways to put ball through the hoop (unless, of course, he’s pushing against brick wall Nikola Pekovic). And that’s not even including his eclectic interests off the court! Once he gets his conditioning back and the rust off, he will improve the Nets’ offense, awkwardly careening toward the rim with one constant asterisk over his head:
How long will his troubled foot hold out? -D.S.
9) Kevin Garnett. Brooklyn’s favorite screaming philosopher, back for another year of equally confusing and life-changing anecdotes. If you ask me today, it seems like it’ll be his last, but Garnett also put up a big 18-point, 14-rebound performance against the Detroit Pistons, his best game in a Nets uniform, so it’s possible he keeps playing beyond this year. No matter what happens with him, I’m just going to enjoy the rapturous mid-range ride while I can. -D.K.
10) Mikhail Prokhorov. It’s been a weird offseason for the Nets’ fearless and peerless leader. First, Jason Kidd flirted with danger and ended up booted. When reports come out of Brooklyn that “the Russians are done with Kidd,” there should be no ambiguity who “the Russians” are. Then, with rumors rampant that Prokhorov has considered selling his stake in the Nets, the 6’9″ billionaire peeked out of hiding, threw well-placed verbal jabs at Jason Kidd, hung out in his presidential Barclays suite, and stormed off steaming after the team lost to an underwhelming Timberwolves team.
Things could change in an instant in the NBA, but for now, it sure seems like he’s here to stay. The door won’t hit him where the good Lord split him. -D.K.