The 2011-12 New York Knicks were a mess at the point guard position all year with the exception of the brief “Linsanity” era, in which Jeremy Lin exploded on to the scene as an exciting scorer and pick-and-roll player.
With Lin’s departure in the 2012 offseason, the Knicks brought back Raymond Felton to provide steady production as the lead ball-handler. The great chemistry he showed with Amar’e Stoudemire in the 2010-11 campaign was undoubtedly a major factor in the acquisition.
With STAT injured for much of the year, Felton didn’t have much time to work with him, but he solidified the point guard spot for the Knicks and helped run the league’s third-most efficient offensive unit.
Felton spent the previous season playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, where he drew the ire of local fans after gaining weight, performing poorly and generally being disgruntled. After his poor showing in Portland, Felton had a sort of mini-revival in New York. He showed up in much better shape and the lost weight improved his quickness when attacking off the dribble.
Felton’s shooting efficiency increased too, as he upped his shooting percentage from the field by three percent and his shooting percentage from deep by six percent. He also did a good job taking care of the ball, coughing the ball up just 2.3 times per game, a big part of why the Knicks had such an incredibly low turnover percentage last season.
On offense, Felton isn’t an elite scorer or passer, but he’s plenty capable in both areas. His 3-point stroke was on point at the beginning of the year as the Knicks stormed out the gate, knocking down a ridiculous amount of threes (he hit better than 40 percent in November during the team’s 11-4 start).
His 3-point shooting, as with other members on the team, cooled off as the season went on. However, he finished the year making a solid 36 percent, just above the league average, and he could be counted on to his open spot-up threes.
He finishes at about a league average rate around the rim, which is pretty good considering his stature and lack of vertical explosiveness. His ability to finish around the basket helps keep defenses honest so he can draw in defenders and hit open cutters for easy shots. Felton has good chemistry with Tyson Chandler, who he often looks to for alley-oop passes out of the pick-and-roll.
Later in the season, opponents looked to take that weapon away and he wasn’t able to hit the roll man nearly as often. He’s usually a smart offensive player, but he does have the troubling tendency to launch too many bad mid-range jumpers. It wasn’t often an issue, but he leaned on those jumpers far too much when Carmelo Anthony was out of the lineup.
Felton is a mixed bag defensively. He can hold his own when he’s focused on that end, but the effort isn’t always there. He’s quick enough to stay in front of his man in one-on-one situations, but he often gets hung up on screens when defending the pick-and-roll.
Raymond Felton may not be an All-Star caliber point guard, but he has a good, well-rounded game and he fits the Knicks’ style of play very well. If New York hopes to advance in the postseason this year, they’ll need him to stay solid and consistent.