We continue with a look at the New York Knicks ranked in ESPN’s Top 500 and that brings us to point guard Raymond Felton, who clocks in at No. 173.
Felton is the fifth Knicks’ player ranked overall so far after James White (479), Pablo Prigioni (437), Kurt Thomas (325) and Steve Novak (176). In addition, Felton is one of four Knicks that are ranked between 157 and 176.
This year’s ranking represents a huge drop from a season ago when Felton was ranked No. 80. The 93 spots Felton slid is a result of a 2011-12 season in which he struggled in a Portland Trail Blazers uniform, averaging only 11.4 points and 6.5 assists while barely shooting over 40 percent from the floor. Felton’s overall score in the rankings was 4.59 and that places him directly behind Boston’s Jeff Green and directly in front of Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough.
Felton hasn’t been the same player since posting his best half-year as a pro while in a Knicks uniform in 2011 before being shipped to Denver as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade. Some of his struggles could be related to him being out of shape and putting on weight in Portland, but Felton gets a new start with the Knicks this season.
Assuming he’s in great condition, Felton is still a question mark for the Knicks this year. Are the Knicks getting the point guard who averaged 17.1 points and 9.0 assist per game, or are they getting a guy whose numbers continue to decline?
It’s quite possible that Knicks’ fans will see something in between.
Felton’s numbers the first time around were in a Mike D’Antoni offense that was good for his game. Now in Mike Woodson’s offense, I don’t see Felton averaging near those numbers, but I would be happy with a 14 and 7 performance from the North Carolina product.
There are plenty of reasons why I feel Felton will have success now that he’s back in a Knicks’ uniform, but the main reason is that there is tons of talent around him. Entering his eighth season in the league, Felton should be comfortable running the pick-and-roll with the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. The big hope is that Felton regains the chemistry he had with Stoudemire during his first go-around in the Big Apple and his re-acquisition benefits both players.
I’m not too concerned about Felton’s weight or conditioning. He’s a pro that will be ready for camp, but I am concerned about his shooting numbers. He’s going to have to knock down open looks in this offense, which means he will need to shoot in the 43-46 percent range, something he’s only done once in his career.
He will have a pair of quality backups in Jason Kidd and Prigioni, so the chances of Felton wearing down during the season are slim, but if he doesn’t perform well, Woodson has other options to turn to.
There will also be pressure on his shoulders- not only to win, but to replace Jeremy Lin, which won’t be easy in the eyes of most Knicks’ fans.
All in all, I think the Knicks are a better team with Felton, but he still remains a big if going into the season. However it won’t be long before we get to see if Felton can answer those questions.
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