Raymond Felton is one of the more polarizing players on the New York Knicks roster.
He famously had a very good first half of the season with Amar’e Stoudemire in the brief time before being traded for Carmelo Anthony in the 2010-2011 season. Since then though, his career both as a Knick and away from the Knicks has not been nearly as good.
After being traded to the Nuggets for Anthony, Felton was traded to the Trailblazers for Andre Miller. The Blazers no doubt had visions of a revamped Felton running their offense with LaMarcus Aldridge. Partly because of the lockout and partly because he has never been in great shape, Felton showed up fat and had arguably the worst season of his career.
Last year though after being shipped back to the Knicks, Felton said he had real motivation to prove the year before was a fluke and that he really was a good point guard. The NBA is a point guard league at the moment let’s see if the Knicks are keeping up.
Last year, most of the best Knicks lineups were with Felton on the floor. While that probably can be partially explained by the fact that the Knicks didn’t really have or play a competent backup point guard for most of the year as Pablo Prigioni was lost somewhere on the bench for much of last year for no real reason; let’s give credit where credit is due.
The Knicks offense was clearly better when Felton played. According to 82games.com the team scored 115.1 points per 100 possessions when he played and 108.2 when he was on the bench.
Yes, Felton played almost all of his minutes with Anthony or Tyson Chandler but again, that couldn’t possibly explain everything. Felton’s individual statistics though are not nearly as good as his team ones make him out to be.
Last year, Felton shot 42.7 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. Neither is alarmingly bad but also neither is anything to write home about. He put approximately 15 points and six assists per 36 minutes and posted a PER of 15.2.
Felton also had a nasty habit of hijacking the offense and taking mediocre jump shots early in the shot clock. Last year Felton took 30 percent of his shots in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. Considering he took 13 shots a game and was rarely even the second best scoring option on the floor, shots like these are hardly ideal for an offense.
All of this adds up to Felton being really an average offensive point guard. He isn’t what Avery Bradley was in the playoffs this past year but he’s equally not Chris Paul or Tony Parker either.
On defense though, Felton made the opposite team impact.
Not only do we know that his defensive rating was 109.1 as opposed to the team’s 104.8 when he left the floor but Felton was also outplayed by his man on a nightly basis. Per 48 minutes, Felton’s positional matchup shot four percent higher (52-48) shot more free throws (4.9-2.7) rebounded better (4.9-4), scored more (23.8-19.7), and had a higher PER (19.7-15.2).
This should come to no surprise of most Knicks fans. During the year it became a real worry anytime the Knicks played against another team with a good point guard. Felton cannot stop his opponent from penetrating and doing really whatever they want. He causes a real breakdown in the defense that forces players like Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler (almost always the only two good defenders on the floor) to shift over and address the penetrating guard, leaving their man in the process. Teams would literally run screens to get Felton on a desired player and then attack him over and over.
Overall Felton teeters on the line between average and slightly below average for a point guard. He can have nights where he cannot be stopped offensively but his opponent will likely have more of those nights throughout the season.
The Knicks have a few issues but if they want to be serious title contenders (something that seems even more unlikely now that the Nets landed Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce) they will likely have to address their point guard situation.
If you look at the projected top five teams in both conferences (Heat, Nets, Pacers, Bulls and Knicks. Spurs, Thunder, Grizzlies, Clippers, and Nuggets) the Knicks have the worst point guard play.
Many may say George Hill is no Magic Johnson either but he shut down Felton in the Eastern Conference semifinals last year completely. After failing to either trade up and take a point guard or take one at 24 in the draft, the Knicks appear confident that Felton is their man running the point.
I wouldn’t be so sure.