NEW YORK — As the New York Knicks extended their winning streak to 13 games on Tuesday, they extended their list of injured big men to six.
Six is the number of big men the Knicks have on their roster, by the way.
Early in the fourth quarter of an easy win over the Washington Wizards, Kenyon Martin went down a sprained left ankle. Martin (who was previously dealing with a sore knee) joined Marcus Camby (foot), Tyson Chandler (neck), Amar’e Stoudemire (knee surgery), Kurt Thomas (foot) and Rasheed Wallace (foot) on the list of (old) injured bigs in New York.
Frank Isola of the Daily News reported Wednesday that the Knicks intend to waive Thomas in order to sign Chris Singleton, who is 6-foot-8.
The only one of the true bigs who could possibly play in Chicago on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, TNT) is Camby. But most likely, Carmelo Anthony will be the starting center against the Bulls, who are still without Joakim Noah.
Now, the Knicks have only played 20 percent of their minutes with two bigs on the floor this season (a contrast to their vanilla-lineup neighbors in Brooklyn), and have been much better offensively when they’ve played small (like with two point guards). So if there’s one team that absorb the loss of a big man or two, it’s this one.
And a little bit of attrition is probably a good thing for New York. Since they traded for Anthony two years ago, they’ve simply been a better team without Stoudemire than they’ve been with him. It’s fair to assume that they’d be better off if Stoudemire didn’t come back this season from his most recent knee injury.
Chandler and Martin are another story. Both are known for their defense, but the Knicks’ one-big offense has been at its best when the one big is one of those two guys.
Knicks efficiency with one big on the floor
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Beyond Chandler, the sample sizes are small. And both Chandler (76 percent) and Martin (57 percent) have benefited – meaning their offensive numbers have benefited – from playing most of their minutes with Anthony.
Still, Chandler and Martin have brought something to the table. Chandler is the perfect example of how you don’t need post moves to be a good offensive center. He rolls hard to the basket, finishing strong and drawing help defenders from the perimeter, which creates space for the Knicks’ shooters. And while Chandler would rank second in the league in field goal percentage if he had enough shots, Martin has actually finished better than Chandler in his short time with the Knicks, shooting 48-for-61 (79 percent) in the restricted area.
And obviously, both guys give New York, a below-average defensive team, some sort of presence inside on that end of the floor.
So the injuries to both Chandler and Martin have to be a serious concern with the playoffs just nine days away. Woodson called Martin’s ankle sprain “severe” on Tuesday. Chandler, meanwhile, returned for just four games before his bulging disc flared up again. Woodson said that his center would be playing if it was playoff time, but back/neck issues don’t go away easily and Chandler at less than 100 percent certainly compromises the Knicks’ chances of winning games and series in the postseason.