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Sunday, February 16, 2014
Three Knicks earning their paychecks

By Ian Begley

The Knicks have the second-highest payroll in the NBA. They also have the ninth worst record in the NBA. So it would be fair to assume that none of their players are earning their paycheck this season. But that’s not necessarily true.

In an effort to take a break from the misery that’s been this Knicks season, we’d like to take a look at three guys who we think have earned their money thus far this year.

1. Tim Hardaway Jr.: Hardaway Jr.’s on his rookie contract, which makes him the 10th highest paid player on the team. But you can make an argument that he’s been the most valuable Knick behind Carmelo Anthony.

Hardaway Jr.’s per-game numbers don’t wow you: 9.2 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists.

But if you look at his shooting percentages and extrapolate his numbers on a per 36 minute basis, Hardaway Jr. looks like a rising star.

He’s averaging 15.7 points per 36 minutes on 45 percent shooting. He’s also hitting 38.5 percent of his three-point attempts. Not bad for a guy who was taken 24th in the first round of the draft.

Who knows where this team would be without Hardaway Jr.? The Knicks’ other shooting guards have been inconsistent. Iman Shumpert hasn’t taken the leap on offense that many predicted. J.R. Smith started off slowly following offseason knee surgery but has played well of late. Hardaway Jr.'s been a consistent source of offense for most of the season.

2. Jeremy Tyler: The sample size is relatively small, just 174 minutes. But Tyler's shown plenty of promise during his brief Knicks tenure. Just take a look at his statistical impact on the court. New York's rebounding rate -- a measure of available rebounds corralled -- improved by 14 percent when Tyler was on the floor. The Knicks are also scoring 13 more points per 100 possessions when Tyler's on the court.

Not bad.

His per-36 numbers are pretty impressive. Tyler's averaging 16.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per 36 minutes. He's hitting 55.6 percent of his field goals. Not bad for a guy making $560,000.

The guess here is that young guard Toure Murry could be making a similar impact if he was given regular minutes. It would also help if Mike Woodson didn't pull him every time he made a mistake.

3. Carmelo Anthony: On one hand, it's hard to put Anthony on this list because he's making $21.4 million this season and his team is 12 games under .500. On the other hand, it's almost impossible to leave him off of it given the season he's having. It seems as if Anthony's given the Knicks his all night in and night out this year.

Carmelo's averaging 27.3 points per game, which is the second-highest total in the league. He's also pulling down a career-high 8.6 rebounds per night. Want more? He's shooting a carer high 84.7 percent from the free-throw line and his turnover rate -- a measure of possessions that end in a turnover -- is a career-low. Simply put, he's been extremely valuable for the Knicks. If you're looking to point the finger somewhere for New York's struggles, take a look at Anthony's supporting cast, not the man himself.

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