Most of the Knicks defenders were sub-par, mainly because of Mike Woodson’s ill-fated defensive switching tactics that happened every other possession, but none of them were able to match Felton’s lackluster defensive deficiencies.
It wasn’t difficult to differentiate Felton’s offensive atrophies from his defensive atrophies. In terms of just being plain terrible, his struggles mirrored each other. But his defense is what cemented him as perhaps the worst starting point guard in the NBA. I can’t even begin to tell you how many instances there were of him getting eradicated by meager ball handlers. Brandon Knight, the driver of the Bucks’ tank mobile, drained a game-winning three straight between Felton’s eyes back in early February. That same month, Mike Scott (MIKE SCOTT) dropped 30, making 6 of his 7 triples. In late March, Jarrett Jack scored his season-high (the Knicks love being generous) 31 points with Felton defending him at a consistent rate when not switching off of him et al.
Just how bad was Felton’s defense this year? According to Synergy, when guarding spot-up shooters 23.6% of the time, Felton allowed 1.11 points per possession, which ranked 338th in the league, as well as allowing .91 points per possession overall, which was good for 284th. Also, when guarding pick and roll ball handlers 48.5% of the time, he allowed 0.90 points per possession, ranking 203rd in that category. His 111 DRtg was tied with J.R Smith, Andrea Bargnani and Beno Udrih for team worst (if you wanna count simpleton Chris Smith’s 119 DRtg in his two garbage time games as the worst). You might as well just rank Felton as the worst defender on the team, because of his major minutes and his 65 starts. You’d think switching would take it’s toll (not!).
It would’ve been miraculous to see Felton stay in front of his man for at least three seconds when a guard was going in on a dribble drive. You hear commentators, like the man himself, Walt Frazier, spit out the phrase “matador defense” whenever a bad defensive possession occurs. The definition of that according to the 69th edition of the NBA Merriam Webster dictionary is “Raymond Felton.”
As Chris Herring wrote in light of Mike Scott’s 30-point performance, opponents were eagerly awaiting for the Knicks to play defense. Reading that list of company in the, as fans would call it, “Knicks Career High Club” is astounding. Pablo Prigioni wasn’t that much better than Felton on defense because of age, but at least he was able to pester ball handlers in the back-court with his sneakiness on inbounds passes, a thing that he brought with him from last year.
Felton’s lateral quickness and speed when defending was nothing short of reprehensible. For him to fight over a screen and stay on his assignment would’ve been supermundane. On some possessions, it looked like Felton was stationary. During games, I tried to keep a Felton-getting-burned hit counter, but I lost count 90% of the time. And I thought Ronnie Price was an atrocious defensive point guard…
The defensive effort will not become any better. Knick fans aren’t convinced that it will become any better in the future to come. Felton cemented himself as one of the worst defenders in the Association.