Can things get any worse for the New York Knicks? At 5-21 on the season, only the Sixers have a worse record, and reports have now surfaced that Carmelo Anthony's knee injury may linger for the remainder of the season unless he takes an extended rest. Their poor record, reports of internal strife in the locker room and Melo's injury have combined to prompt articles like this one from ESPNNewYork.com in which Ian Begley ponders whether the Knicks should shut Carmelo down.
Of course, for all the talk about Melo's knee, he did go out and post 22 points with five boards, three blocks and a steal on Friday night against the Celtics, and went for 34 points, nine boards, four 3-pointers and a steal in Sunday night's overtime loss to the Raptors. Anthony still ranks 40th on our Player Rater when sorted by averages, and has posted 22.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.4 3-pointers on the season.
Even so, he dropped from 12th to 22nd in the top 130 rankings this week (see table below) based on his uncharacteristic play to date and speculation about his knee injury. Given the concerns, perhaps the best advice for Anthony owners is to wait until he strings together a few good games and try to sell him before things start to get worse in New York (if that's possible).
Let's take a look around the league to see who's rising and falling in the top 130 rankings after last week's action:
Averaging 19.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, Pau Gasol may be having his best professional season -- in his 14th year in the league. This is truly incredible stuff from the 34-year-old, particularly considering the presence of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson in the Bulls' impressive frontcourt. With a 25.4 percent usage rate, Gasol is fitting in nicely under head coach Tom Thibodeau, and currently sits 15th on our Player Rater when sorted by averages.
It really is a shame that Michael Carter-Williams is shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent from the free throw line, because he's really filling up the stat sheet just about everywhere else. Through seven games in the month of December, MCW is posting 16.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 10.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.9 3-pointers per game. Those type of numbers would make him a top-20 fantasy play if it weren't for his dismal percentages.
Another sophomore, Victor Oladipo, is finally starting to live up to the hype. After a pedestrian start to the season, Oladipo is averaging 18.1 points, 4.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.7 3-pointers per game with terrific percentages after seven contests in the month of December. With Oladipo coming on strong and rounding into shape, I have him moving up in the ranks, sitting just behind teammate Tobias Harris, who is having a brilliant season of his own.
I think it's time for me to stop ignoring what 38-year-old Tim Duncan is doing in his 18th professional season. Age and mileage may soon catch up to him, but it's clear that he still has enough left in the tank at least for this season. Despite missing a handful of games to rest, and seeing only 30.8 minutes per game on the season, Duncan has remained productive with 14.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 2.2 blocks per contest. Duncan moves up five spots to 58th overall this week, but his owners should be aware that head coach Gregg Popovich will likely cut Duncan's minutes drastically in the second half of the season as he prepares his team for the playoffs.
Now might be a good time for Eric Bledsoe owners to seek out a sell-high deal. He currently ranks 11th on our Player Rater on the strength of 15.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.1 3-pointers per game. But a closer look at his splits reveals that most of his damage has been done with Isaiah Thomas on the shelf. Now that Thomas has returned, we should expect Bledsoe's numbers to revert back to his November splits: 14.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.9 3-pointers.
Brandon Jennings is suffering through another one of his classic slumps, averaging just 5.3 points, 7.0 assists, 0.3 steals and 0.1 3-pointers while shooting 20.3 percent from the floor over his past seven games. Those who have owned Jennings in the past know that he exclusively deals in extremes; he's either incredibly hot or incredibly cold, and there's very little in between. Despite his recent struggles, he doesn't drop too far in the rankings because there's surely a hot streak coming up around the corner for the inconsistent point guard.
In a surprise to no one, Reggie Jackson has struggled since the return of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. After posting 19.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.2 3-pointers in November, he's managed just 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.7 3-pointers in six December games. Last season, Jackson was a solid contributor off the bench with both Durant and Westbrook healthy, and moving forward should resume his status as a low-end fantasy player off the bench for the Thunder.
Fantasy Basketball Top 130
Brian McKitish's top 130 players are ranked for their value for the rest of the 2014-15 NBA season, independent of the value accrued to this point. For a ranking of players' value to this point, please refer to the Player Rater.