In his typically excellent weekly power rankings over at NYMag.com, Seth Rosenthal notes the somewhat alarming importance Rasheed Wallace’s play has taken on over the season’s first 13 games:
Sheed is ever the mixed bag, particularly on offense. One night, he makes three-pointers in rhythm and posts up for a few of those signature fading turn-arounds. The next, he bricks threes from a standstill and tosses up careless shots from the block. There’s a pretty fine line between the two Sheeds, too, and it’s a little scary how much his play can affect the Knicks on a given night.
Expected to just serve as a veteran presence on the bench, Wallace has averaged nearly 16 minutes a game in the early going, and has become a regular part of the rotation, clearly surpassing “Whatever Happened to Marcus Camby” in the process.
When the Knicks added Wallace, my expectation was that anything they got from him would be akin to gravy, although maybe something not even as integral as a delicious gravy is to a well-executed meal.
Instead, Rasheed has not only been a regular, as Seth notes, his performance has had a somewhat alarming impact on whether the team wins or loses. Which isn’t to say he’s been bad, Wallace has been easily one of the season’s most pleasant surprises, but along with his inconsistency, one has to wonder how long he’s really expected to keep this up. This is someone who has been out of the league for the last two years.
There’s no doubt that as this season has progressed, Wallace’s role has evolved from lovable 12th man to valuable member of the rotation, and while to date, it’s worked out better than anyone could have hoped, it definitely makes me a little nervous going forward. Though his defense and rebounding were solid, Sheed’s 2-11 from the field in the loss to Brooklyn was a big part of the team’s sputtering offense in the game.
Of course, some of Wallace’s best games have come in losses, so I may be overstating his significance — as the intentionally hyperbolic headline would indicate — and presumably Amar’e is returning at some point and one would expect Sheed’s role to recede a bit, hopefully no longer requiring him to produce on such a regular basis. That’s still happening, right (Gulp)?