Monday, July 16, 2012
How Can Raymond Felton Help Knicks His Second Time Around?
With the media and fans alike so concerned with whether or not the Knicks will match Jeremy Lin's offer sheet with the Rockets, few are pondering how the newly re-acquired Raymond Felton will fare in his second Big Apple stint.
Many people are distraught over the Knicks (potentially and/or likely) losing Lin, but should he flock to Houston, at least New York has brought in a more than capable point guard to fill the void.
Take a second to forget which floor general you may prefer, and explore the potential positive contributions of Felton.
The returning Knickerbocker has been a consistent producer throughout his seven-year career (owning averages of 13.4 points, 6.7 assists, and 1.4 assists). Though Felton's initial elevated play with the Knicks was widely credited to Mike D'Antoni's offensive system, the fact is the point guard had developed strong chemistry with his teammates just like Lin has.
Lin may have been a more efficient scorer due to his aggressive penetration, but perhaps Felton is just as good of a playmaker for this team. As Lin's offense surged, other Knicks took secondary roles. While some may say Lin simply stepped up because others were struggling, Amar'e Stoudemire still only averaged 18 points per game in the month of March last season, despite shooting an impressive 56% from the field.
There's no denying Lin stepped up in a major way when the Knicks needed it most, but it can't be said he meshed perfectly with the team's full roster either. During his own tenure with the Knicks, Felton displayed good energy and a nice rhythm during the pick & roll with Stoudemire. The pair worked so well together that STAT was considered an M.V.P. candidate through the early goings of the 2010-11 season.
With more bonafide scorers in town than there were during his first stint with the team, the pressure would be off for Felton to score as much. Instead, the need is present for a distributor. His job in New York would not only consist of helping some of his teammates along, but also to get out of the way and let Carmelo Anthony do his thing when he's on a hot streak.
When the Brooklyn native is playing his best, he's a surefire M.V.P. candidate as well (as he was during last season's final month). Felton needs to allow Anthony to be Anthony, and continue to keep the ball moving when it's not in Melo's hands.
A point guard like Felton may be just the guy who the Knicks need to help bridge the gap between STAT and Melo. Anthony can create his own offense, and Felton can be there to create opportunities for Stoudemire. This is where Lin seemed to fail (albeit perhaps due to a lack of a longer opportunity to do so. The Knicks may never know.)
In addition to Stoudemire, Felton also has prior experience playing with J.R. Smith (in Denver with the Nuggets) and Tyson Chandler (in Charlotte with the Bobcats). It's certainly a possibility that Felton can help elevate the play of his other new teammates as well.
Both Lin and Chauncey Billups made positive contributions playing for the Knicks during parts of the past two seasons. The difference between that pair and Felton, however, is that both Lin and Billups were scoring point guards. They can do it well, but the Knicks appear better suited for a natural playmaker.
Is Felton the ideal choice for a New York City playmaker, especially with Deron Williams playing in Brooklyn? Probably not. Felton is obviously no Steve Nash, either. That said, he's a solid floor general who not only knows how to get his teammates involved, but can do it under the bright lights of The Garden, too.
Regardless of whether or not Lin returns (and no matter which guard you may prefer), Felton is still nevertheless a solid option for a floor general. If he's able to pick up where he left off in New York, he stands to help lead the Knicks to great things.