Point Man: Is Raymond Felton the Knicks' Problem?

New York Knicks Raymond Felton drives to the basket in the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 27, 2010. The Hawks defeated the Knicks 99-90. UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

Felton has done well scoring, but assisting? Not so much. (Source: Yardbarker.com)

From new Buckets writer, Joshua Sage, a post on how perhaps one of the reasons we lost to the Hawks was due to Raymond Felton.

The New York Knicks five game winning streak came to a halt yesterday at the hands of a troubled Atlanta Hawks team.  A Hawks team that looks like it’s in route to another disappointing playoff exit, but hey, at least Atlanta will be in the playoffs.

The Knicks trailed throughout the game, showed little defensive prowess, played selfishly on offense, and failed to win over their home crowd, which booed like they were getting payed for it.

New York once again lost the assist battle, only four times this season have the Knicks had more assists then their opponent. They were also out rebounded for the tenth time. So far this season, no Knick is averaging double figures in rebounds or assists.

The loss of David Lee has sorely affected the Knicks ability to keep opposing teams off the boards and muster up any second chance points. Another issue in NYC are the point guards, who look to just score, score, score. Ideally, Raymond Felton should be a quality veteran backup point guard, with a true floor general leading the starting five.

Felton has scored 20+ points 6 times this season, and 30+ just once. That’s the same number of times that Danilo Gallinari has scored at least 20 and at least 30 in a game so far this season, even though Felton routinely takes about 10 more shots per game then Gallo. Felton has only attempted 5 or more free throws in a game four times. Gallo on the other hand has attempted 6 or more free throws in ten games thus far this season. Raymond has eight games with 4 or more turnovers, and six games with 10+ assists. He had four assists and three turnovers in the loss to Atlanta, going 8-16 from the field with no free throws. He really needs to keep his turnovers down and attempt to hit the 10 assist mark more often.

With so many bad teams in the East, the Knicks have a chance to make the playoffs but not if they only have one 20 point per game scorer, not if their point guards routinely take more shots then Gallo and Wilson Chandler (who are more effective scorers) and not if their starting small forward, the supposed savior of the team, is only taking 6 shots a night.

Three seasons into Mike D’Antoni’s tenure as head coach, the run & gun coach that relies so heavily on great point guard play, has yet to see his GM Donnie Walsh draft, trade for, or sign a great point guard for Mike’s offensive system. Raymond Felton, while a productive guard, is a scoring guard NOT a point guard. He shoots first and passes second. Felton’s backup Tony Douglas is worse, he shoots first and only occasionally attempts a pass. Douglas is only averaging 2.1 assists per game this season. These types of guards are not suited for Mike’s system, a great passer who makes excellent split second decisions is needed. Raymond and Tony would be better suited for a Stan Van Gundy type of offense, as seen during their run to the finals in 2009, with Gallo playing the role of Hedo Türkoğlu. Yeah, I know, Hedo stinks now, but he played very well in that system and was vital to their finals run.

Their are two ways the Knicks can garauntee themselves a playoff spot. One, have two players average 20+ points per game for them throughout the season, blowing out enough teams to land a playoff birth. The second option is to land an elite point guard that can be the floor general the Knicks need and make everyone better. Their is actually a third option, involving hiring a coach that can turn the Knicks into a quality defensive team, but even if they fired Mike D’Antoni today, I highly doubt that the team can learn a defensive system in time for the playoffs.

Since bringing in a new coach this season isn’t the answer, nor is it plausible that Donnie can land an elite point guard this season, unless he’s willing to give up young talent for Steve Nash if/when the Phoenix Suns should falter, then the only option is for Mike D’Antoni to give Gallo more touches per game, run the offense more through Amar’e/Gallo and force Felton to take less shots.

While New Yorkers’ expectations of Gallo are far too high, he has shown the ability to be a consistent 20 points per game scorer, who can get to the line and put the opposing team into foul trouble. He’ll never be Dirk, he doesn’t have his skill set or agility. He sure as hell will never be Larry Bird, who could score, rebound and pass the ball with excellent skill and poise. Gallo can however become a quality 20ppg scorer, a star in a supporting role, that can lighten the load on Amar’e and help the Knicks make the playoffs, which is all they can ask for right now until another key piece of the puzzle arrives.

With his three point shot, and ability to get to the line, I actually believe Gallo can one day become a 23-25 ppg player if he can just develop a go-to-move at midrange. Perhaps that step back jumper he’s been working on is the key. Though he really has to stop using that move from beyond the arc!

The Eastern Conference playoff landscape is weak, so the Knicks can make the playoffs this season, so long as they figure things out sooner rather then later. The Bucks, Heat and Bobcats have all stumbled out of the gate. The 76ers, Pistons, Raptors, Wizards and Cavs are all bad teams. If their was ever an opportunity to make the playoffs, it’s this season, it’s now. The clock is ticking New York.

Tags: Atlanta Hawks Danilo Gallinari Joshua Sage Mike D'Antoni New York Knicks Raymond Felton

  • http://www.shattertheglass.com bgalella

    The Knicks need to upgrade at point guard. All this Carmelo Anthony talk doesn’t make any sense, Deron Williams or Chris Paul are way better targets for New York.

  • JD

    I would LOVE to have Deron Williams on the New York Knicks. To me he is the very best point guard in the league. A combo of D-Will and STAT would be sick to watch.

    The problem is Deron cannot become a free agent yet.

    At the end of the 2011-12 season both Williams and Chris Paul can become free agents (I believe that’s right), with Dwight Howard eligible for free agency at the end of the following season.

    That’s a long wait for Knicks fans who have been waiting too bloody long already. It’s no safe bet then any of those three great players will leave their current teams either, though I do believe Howard will go because the Magic are getting older and will only get worse with time.

  • http://www.shattertheglass.com bgalella

    Two years is a long time to wait, but that’s why New York signed Raymond Felton to the two year deal, maybe back then it was to try and convice Chris Paul, but I agree JD, Deron Williams would be an amazing addition.

  • http://bucketsoverbroadway.com Alex David, aka Short White Boy

    Maybe my expectations have just plummeted extremely low after two years of Chris Duhon, but I’ve been a huge fan of Felton. I think he’s played great ball for us, is improving at getting the ball to Stoudemire in better positions, and he loves to make the big shot to stop the other team’s momentum. For the season, only eight elite super-stud point guards are averaging more assists than his 7.9. That’s Rondo, CP3, Deron, Nash, JKidd, John Wall, Westbrook & Rose. And the last two are barely better at 8.4 and 8.2.

    I mean, Knick fans had been praying for Tony Parker, but his 7.4 assists this season are a career-high. And except for JKidd, Rondo & barely CP3, all of those guys attempt more shots, so they dominate the rock as scorers too and would take even more shots away from Gallo & Chandler.

    Felton’s definitely getting into a groove, and over the last two weeks he’s actually averaged 8.6 assists, good enough for 6th best during that time period (only Rondo, CP3, Deron, Nash & Westbrook were better).

    So sure, it’d be nice to get CP3 or Deron, but c’mon, those guys are perhaps two of the top five players in the league right now, so it seems unfair to diminish Felton by comparing him to them. And what with Melo being very clearly extremely available right now, it makes sense that everyone’s obsessed with getting him. Plus, Felton’s pretty much shown up for every game since the regular season started (yes, he was AWOL during pre-season), so I’d argue that we’ve been hurt much more by the inconsistency at the SF position. Gallo has been great in some games, but he’s disappeared/sucked in others (and those games we tend to lose). When he’s shot better than 37%, just 37%, we’ve only lost ONCE the entire season. That’s not 37% from three-point land, but 37% from the field. And he’s only shot better than 37% in 8 of our 18 games. That is awwwwwful. I say this not to rag on him, and I do believe he’ll get it going regularly eventually while getting even better, but it’s quite possible that if we swapped Gallo for Melo, we’d currently have more wins than if we’d swapped Felton for Deron.

    Regardless, to go from solid to a top ten team, we need an upgrade in talent, so it’s sorta silly to argue over who would help us more. Any additions (unless we have to trade away too much) will be great.

  • markstripes

    Felton has not been the problem. Generally, he has played very well. People forget that this roster is just getting used to each other. It takes time to build team chemistry. The Knicks record is almost as good as the Heat, the other team that is just getting used to each other. Felton has gotten better and better for this team, and deserves more support.

  • JD

    Hell after two years of Chris Duhon I miss Stephon Marbury!

    Tony Parker was never an option for me since his game is built on speed and that goes away pretty quickly in most athletes careers, especially one that plays as much as Tony.

    The problem with the Knicks is their head coach. Felton is not the right point guard for this system, a superior passer is needed for this system. What I’m saying is I want this system to go! The Knicks don’t need a star player at point (though no one in their right mind would keep Felton if NYK had a shot at D-Will or CP3) so long as they have two 20 ppg players on the roster that can carry the load late in games.

    A starting 5 of Amar’e, Gallo (they should really try Gallo at the 4), Melo, Fields & Felton can be affective. I’m not sure they can win a title, but they’ll be in the playoffs every year.

    If Donnie fails to land Melo then he should sign Jason Richardson, his scoring at the 2 is sorely needed on this squad.

    With the young talent the Knicks have, the potential to add a quality 2-guard or SF in free agency, I have a lot of confidence in this franchise moving forward. They just need to land themselves a solid head coach and this team can start playing championship basketball, which is defensive minded B-Ball.

  • http://bucketsoverbroadway.com Alex David, aka Short White Boy

    You’re right, JD, bringing up Duhon is unfair ‘cuz he makes everyone else look great (hmm, wait a sec, isn’t that what they say the best players in the league should do? Make everyone around them look better? Maybe Duhon should be an MVP candidate then…). And of course, no one would choose Felton over DWill or CP3. But I think Felty’s running D’Antoni’s system just fine. And is it really that you want the offensive system to go, or isn’t it more that you want a better defensive system?

    Along that line, the more I think about it, the more I’m starting to feel that if the Knicks ever truly want to contend with Amar’e as one of the core pieces, then the main thing they need is a bruising center to protect the paint and defend. If you move him to center and Gallo to the four-spot, you could bring in a couple of Van Gundys, a Riley, Popovitch, and whoever, and they still wouldn’t be able to instill a solid defensive system around that group.

  • lol

    What do you have to say now?

  • sage

    Mike D’Antoni still has to go. The Knicks could use an upgrade at the 2 or 3. Felton is still gone if the Knicks can land CP3 or D-Will.

    As I said before, and in other places, the Knicks don’t need a superstar at the PG, Felton works just fine so long as they upgrade other key positions.

    A solid Center, a high scoring SG or SF (Melo+Fields in starting 5 would be nice) and a better head coach and the Knicks will be set to contend for a title. See this is why I wanted New York to draft Hassan Whiteside and Jarvis Varnado, not Rotten, because both were bigs known for shot blocking and rebounding in college. Both are long term building projects but hey take a chance, you never know how it might turn out.

    The Knicks offensive system is predicated on running the pick&roll through Amar’e, getting to the line and hitting the open 3-point shooter. Clearly that’s affective but it’s not the only way to run a strong offensive unit. The Knicks need defense if they want to be more then the Eastern Conference version of the Phoenix Suns or Portland Trailblazers.

    Now while both those teams were fun to watch, go ahead and ask their fans if they’re happy with zero titles in all the time both squads were playoff teams.