Part II, New York Cower Rankings:
Who’s The Least Bad In New York?

#20-#11: Circumstantial Witnesses

RIP, high-top fade. (AP)
RIP, high-top fade. (AP)
red arrow20. Deron Williams.

How do you judge Deron Williams? He hasn’t had one second at full strength this season. His frustration mounts each passing day he can’t play. Anything he says publicly gets beaten back by online trolls who tell him to shut up and start playing basketball. He’s been hit with back-to-back freak accidents (don’t argue that landing on someone’s foot sideways is a “recurring issue”) that have kept him sidelined. He’s the face of this franchise… in that he’s injured and can’t play. It’s a tight line between failure and fodder.

In a twisted sense, the Nets struggles without Williams validate just how important he is, but that importance is wasted with him in a tie. We won’t see what these Nets can be without Williams healthy, but we also may never see him healthy. What will that make Brooklyn? -D.K. (Previous: 8)

green arrow19. Raymond Felton.

Another hapless, poor-shooting perimeter player at the behest of Carmelo Anthony. Felton looks awfully lost on offense without Tyson Chandler as his trusty roll man.-D.S.(Previous: 20)

green arrow18. Alan Anderson.

One of the team’s better trash talkers. I’m sounding like a broken record talking about Nets reserves: Injuries have forced Anderson into a starting role, and though no one expected him to play at Paul Pierce’s level, he’s done admirably as a 3-and-D fill-in. It’s absurd to me that he’s somehow still forcing shots while taking them at the lowest rate of his career, though. if he only took wide open shots in rhythm, he’d be one of the league’s best shooters. Alas. -D.K. (Previous: 22)

green arrow17. Tim Hardaway, Jr.

He’s played well enough to make the New York Daily News believe that he’s made Iman Shumpert expendable. He’s shooting 40% on threes and averaging 17 points per 36 minutes. Not bad for a guy best known for his dad’s crossover. -D.K. (Previous: 36)

red arrow16. Shaun Livingston.

Shaun Livingston is tired, man. After a surprisingly effective start to the season, Livingston has had to do much too much in the absence of Deron Williams, and you can see the energy and effort is not quite the same as it was in the first several weeks of the season. It doesn’t help that Tyshawn Taylor isn’t really capable of being a rotation-level point guard yet, and no one on the Nets can really handle the ball all that well for extended periods.

He’s continued to be a good floor manager, and plus-minus numbers tend to benefit him, but Livingston plays best off the bench with a lower minutes load against lower-tier second-unit guards. -D.S. (Previous: 13)

green arrow15. Kenyon Martin.

With Tyson Chandler out for an extended stretch, the Knicks will rely on Martin to dole out the punishment that Andrea Bargnani never learned how to give. Worth noting: Martin has the team’s best net rating when on the floor of all healthy players. The question mark: the former Nets bash brother and 35-year-old on surgically repaired knees is averaging nearly 25 minutes per game since the Knicks lost to the Indiana Pacers. How long will his body hold up? -D.K. (Previous: 16)

Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd (AP)
— 14. Jason Kidd.

Yes, okay, yes, I’m keeping Jason Kidd here. Put down the pitchforks and torches. Don’t hit the block button just yet. I’ve thought about it for a while. Hear me out.

The case against Kidd being this high: Have you seen this team’s record? Or how they’ve played in the third quarter following his halftime adjustments? Have you seen his drink-spilling montage? Did he really just snipe his biggest asset on the bench just to prove a point? Yes, I’ve seen all that. But so has Billy King, which leads to…

The case for Kidd staying this high: He’s bulletproof. The team, the roster, the franchise all belong to him now. He runs the show, he calls the shots. Kidd wants Lawrence Frank on his bench? Here’s $6 million. Lawrence Frank seems subordinate? You’re out, mentor. He’s reminded us that this team is officially his show, which is what he wanted from Day One. Now the future rests entirely on his shoulders.

Look at Mike Woodson. Woodson’s in the same predicament as Kidd, with a floundering team in the world’s biggest media market. Except Woodson has little clout over his team. He admitted Chris Smith made the team to appease older brother J.R. Smith. He refuses to answer basic questions about his coaching decisions. Kidd may have made a desperate move in canning Frank, but he did it to remind everyone who was in charge. Woodson doesn’t have that clout right now.

Ultimately, the power rankings question comes down to: who’s got the power? After axing Frank, there’s no doubt about it: Jason Kidd has the power. That debate is dead. That’s half the battle. If he can figure out how to exert it in some sort of productive way, he might move up this list next month. If not? The consequences of failure are his and his alone. -D.K. (Previous: 14)

green arrow13. Mason Plumlee.

Plumdog Millionaire, Mason Ploblee, Mighty Mase — whatever you want to call him, he’s been one of the city’s booming, bright stars in an otherwise bleak, joyless cloud of graying desperation. Plumlee is the rare rookie that knows his limitations and plays entirely within them. He doesn’t look to shoot jumpers. He won’t try to dribble behind his back. On offense, he’s running at the rim and looking for dunks. On defense, he’s running to the rim and looking for blocks.


GIVE ME DUNKS

He’s what Andray Blatche could be if Blatche could jump and didn’t realize he could do anything else. Plumlee may not have a lot of upside at 23, but his athleticism and IQ alone will keep him in the rotation. Now if only playing in this rotation meant anything. -D.K. (Previous: 35)

green arrow12. Iman Shumpert.

Everyone’s favorite trade bait. Iman Shumpert has shown he’s mad and he’s not going to take it anymore. More power to him. Shumpert seems like he’s a good guy who wants to play the right way, and that’s not going to happen any time soon in New York. I hope he soon finds himself in a place where defense is more than something to fart on. -D.S. (Previous: 18)

red arrow11. Metta World Peace.

As I said plainly in our last edition, Metta World Peace ranked at #5 solely because the offseason is a landscape built for hijinks and absurdity, which are World Peace’s greatest strengths. Now that the season’s started, his ranking rightfully floats back down to earth, though it’s mitigated by two factors: 1) everyone on both teams is either injured or an abject disaster, 2) World Peace said he got into a fight with Kenyon Martin about how they like their pasta. Plus, he’s still the guy below… -D.K. (Previous: 5)

Next: #10-#6

          36-31          |          30-21          |          20-11          |           10-6          |          5-1

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