Knicks remain stagnant in ESPN’s latest NBA Power Rankings

NBA: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have been up and down over their last four games, which has caused them to stay still in ESPN’s latest NBA Power Rankings.

Knicks Miss Robinson Despite Strong Individual Play From Hartenstein

Having gone 2-2 in that span, the Knicks (15-11) picked up key victories against the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers, the latter of which was expounded on by Tim Bontempts of ESPN:

“The loss of Mitchell Robinson (left ankle) hurts the Knicks, but Isaiah Hartenstein stepped in to show why he’s considered one of the NBA’s best backup centers with a tremendous performance Monday in Los Angeles against Anthony Davis and the Lakers, grabbing 17 rebounds in 39 minutes. With Jericho Sims now also injured for New York, Hartenstein’s role will only grow in importance as the Knicks try to stay in the mix in the ultra-competitive East playoff picture. — Bontemps

The Knicks bounced back with their win over the Lakers after losing 144-122 to the Los Angeles Clippers in what was their second-largest margin of defeat as well as the second-most points allowed to an opponent this season.

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They have experienced trade-offs that have canceled each other out. Julius Randle has been on a tear of late and his early-season rust appears to be ancient history. He’s averaged 26 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists a night on 56 percent shooting from the floor and a perfect clip from the charity stripe. He’s been a much-needed support for Jalen Brunson, who is making a strong case for his first All-Star appearance.

On the other end of the spectrum, Mitchell Robinson’s absence has hurt the Knicks’ defense, dropping them from as high as No. 3 to their current standing at No. 14 overall. Hartenstein has been able to pick up the pieces from an individual standpoint in his stead, but the Knicks have allowed teams to score 55.5 points in the paint per game.

Will a More Concrete Lineup Lead to More Wins For the Knicks?

Immanuel Quickley has made the most of limited minutes with a 20-point performance against the Lakers but has been an outlier amongst a crowded wing rotation with several players vying for minutes in Tom Thibodeau’s lineup that has been all but concrete of late.

The Knicks came in one spot ahead of the Lakers and outpaced the 15-12 Miami Heat (No. 14) while the 16-9 Orlando Magic (No. 10) and the 16-12 New Orleans Pelicans (No. 11) edged them out. The Knicks have two crucial back-to-back matchups against the Milwaukee Bucks who they’ve yet to triumph over this season. They’ll look to even the season series and climb in the next power rankings installment.