Raymond Felton Will Be New York Knicks' Biggest X-Factor in Playoffs

By Josh Benjamin
Raymond Felton New York Knicks
Tom Szczerbowski-USA Today Sports

If the New York Knicks are going to make any noise in the playoffs this season, point guard Raymond Felton needs to become more of a distributor. The Knicks need a balanced scoring attack to carry them in the postseason, and a long run is doomed unless Felton becomes less trigger-happy with his shot.

Now, that isn’t to say that Felton has been at all bad this season. The former Tar Heel is averaging 14.1 points and 5.5 assists per game on the season, plus 1.4 steals and has shot 42.5 percent from the field while making 35 percent of his threes.

Felton has also been par for the course over his last five games, averaging 13.4 points and 5.6 assists while making 46 percent of his attempts from the field. The only part of his game that has suffered is his long-range attack, as he has made just 28 percent of his threes over that stretch.

Both sets of numbers aren’t bad by any means, but consider that Felton is averaging 13.1 field goal attempts per game this season. That ranks third on the team behind top scorers Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. Were it not for big man Amar’e Stoudemire’s injury-riddled season, Felton probably would not rank as high nor take as many shots.

The facts are simple. Though a decent slasher, Felton is just too small at 6’1″, 205 pounds to constantly drive the lane and/or create off the dribble. He should take advantage of opportunities if they present themselves, but he should not go out of his way to pursue them.

This is why Felton’s performance in the playoffs is going to be critical to the team’s overall success. If he’s trying to do too much on offense and not just let guys like Anthony, Smith or even Tyson Chandler run the show, then New York could be in trouble.

Instead, he should focus more on his passing game and be less of a scorer. He needs to be the Felton of the Mike D’Antoni era, constantly driving the lane before dishing off a last-minute pass.

So long as he can balance his scoring game with his passing attack and not become overly reliant on the former, New York has a chance. Head coach Mike Woodson runs a system that calls for the point guard to be a floor general who just gets the ball to the go-to guys and helps as necessary, and Felton just needs to up his production in passing to ensure playoff success for the Knicks.

Otherwise, the team will look like a mess on the court and the New York fans could go home disappointed in the playoffs once again.

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