Berman's half season report card
Curry and Duhon got some mad generous grades...
With this three-day break in the Knicks' schedule, it's midterm-grade time. The Knicks entered the season's midpoint at 17-24 following Monday's MLK Day win over Detroit.
The good news is they've bounced back from a franchise-worst 1-9 start. The bad news is after 41 games, they own the same record as last season's 32-50 club despite no trade upheavals or injuries of consequence.
The season's second half begins Friday vs. the world-champion Lakers.
Here are the grades.
Al Harrington: You can talk about what he doesn’t do -- defend on every possesson -- but too many nights he's an unstoppable offensive force and probably should start. D'Antoni takes him for granted. Harrington will make a great mid-level free-agent signing this summer and the Knicks will miss the scoring. (18.2 points) Grade: B-plus
Danilo Gallinari: The back has held up nicely and his all-around game has been the season's most important development, considering he's the bedrock of the future. Gallinari leads the NBA in 3-pointers with 109, but his tough defense, occasional shotblocking and hard forays to the hole has given Donnie Walsh fantasies of All-Star potential. Grade: A-minus
Wilson Chandler: "Will'' got off to a terrible start, his decision-making and lack of athleticism alarming during that 1-9 stretch. Part of it was due to not playing this summer because of his ankle surgery. Chandler has been a big part of their rise to respectability, averaging 14.7 points, but needs to be more consistent. D'Antoni's barb in Detroit that some of the "main guys'' didn't show a "desire to win'' was a direct hit on Chandler. Grade: B-minus.
Nate Robinson: The Knicks did well without him during "NateGate,'' but his 14-game banishment was too severe. Some nights he looks like LeBron. Some nights he looks like the worst player in the league. Grade: C-plus.
Chris Duhon: The Knicks starting point guard is immersed in another awful slump. D'Antoni says he loses confidence easily: a damning statement. Duhon's poor play was the biggest reason for that 1-9 start, but D'Antoni never wavers on his belief he can get it done. Could be on the same track as last season, when he petered out. Grade: C-minus
Larry Hughes: Hughes should wake up and smell the coffee. D'Antoni's style is to fall in and out of love with players without communicating. Deal with it. Hughes hasn't handled his demotion well and hasn't been the same since returning from a groin injury in mid-December. He goes into awful shooting slumps (he's at 36 percent) but could be helpful down the stretch. Grade: D
David Lee: Taking a leap forward from last season's solid year, Lee is having an All-Star season and NBA coaches like his game enough to squeak him in as a reserve, it says here. Lee leads the club in scoring average at 19.1 points with 11.2 rebounds and a .558 percent shooting percentage, impressive because much of the attempts are now jumpers. And as he handles the ball more up top, his assists are piling up: 3.4, tops among Eastern centers. He's also played all 41 games. Grade: A
Jordan Hill: The coaching staff decided last Saturday it was time for the rookie power forward to get meaningful minutes after a wasted season. He's active, gives length on defense and when his jumper falls, he's a big asset. But he has bad hands, is foul-prone, and for too long he lacked the work ethic to earn a steady spot at a logjammed position. He's now in rotation, but it's tenuous at best. Grade: C
Jared Jeffries: He still gets booed when he misses a shot badly, but the in-the-know Garden fans appreciate his defensive prowess as their glue. He does everything on D, including stalking the point guard on the perimeter and is their best help defender. If only he wasn't such an embarrassment sometimes offensively. Grade: B-minus
Toney Douglas: His outside shooting and decision-making have been disappointing, even for a rookie, but his attitude and defensive intensity is top-notch. Not in the rotation after James Dolan forked over $3 million for the pick. Grade C
Jonathan Bender: Give him credit for getting back into the mix after being out four years. But after his first two splashy outings, Bender has been stagnant and is out of the rotation for Hill. Grade: C
Eddy Curry: Despite losing the weight he needed to lose after his training-camp disaster, D'Antoni gave up on the Curry experiment after seven games. He didn't fit into the system because he's strictly a low-post player and the team looked befuddled when he was on the court. D'Antoni's intuition proved correct when Curry injured his left knee last week doing workouts and he's undergone knee surgery that puts him out six weeks. Grade: D-minus
Marcus Landry: It was shocking the undrafted rookie free agent made the team out of training camp and he's endeared himself with the coaching staff because of his lunchpail, grinding game. Could be a cheap rotation guy next season as they try to stay below the salary cap. Needs to shoot better from outside. Grade: B
Darko Milicic: It took D'Antoni eight games before he decided his offseason pickup wasn't tenacious enough to play. Milciic's shot looked off and he was struggling to adjust to the fast pace. He's already eyeing Europe for next season and a buyout for this season. Grade: F
Cuttino Mobley: Let's see if his contract can save money for another team and be used in a trade. Mobley medically retired last year. Grade: Incomplete.
Coach Mike D'Antoni: Made the big adjustment to slow down the speedball attack after the 1-9 start and emphasized defense and pick-and-rolls. Morale could be better if he communicated with players constantly being yanked around. We have yet to see him at his best as he continues fiddling with the rotation. Grade: C-plus.
President Donnie Walsh: The Milicic trade was lousy. The Hill pick doesn't look great with Brandon Jennings and Demar Derozan, but Gallinari has come on. Can't make this grade until we see what July 2010 brings, and that could range from an A-plus to an F-minus. Grade: Inc.