Just a few weeks ago I touted Raymond Felton as one of the keys to New York’s success this year.
After Amar’e the most obvious improvement is at the point guard position. Last year Chris Duhon gave New York 2072 putrid minutes last year. Duhon’s tenure was so bad I ripped Kelly Dwyer for describing the Magic signing him to a minor deal as ‘fine’. I didn’t even have to wait for Duhon to take up residence in Stan Van Gundy’s doghouse. Lost in the Amar’e Amore is the tremendous upgrade that Raymon Felton has been over Duhon. I’ve lined up the two in a comparison here, but if you want the 35 word explanation instead: Felton scores nearly twice the amount of points (16.4 to 8.6 pts/36) with a much higher efficiency (53.7% to 50.1% TS%) combined with more assists (8.3 to 6.6 ast/36) and steals (1.7 to 1.0 stl/36).
In my analysis I compared Felton to Duhon, and there’s no doubt that Raymond has been an upgrade to his predecessor. However it doesn’t mean that Felton has shored up the position for New York. Recently Felton has taken a sharp decline in his production. Below are two charts that show his cumulative game score and true shooting percentage.
Felton’s game scores start low then peak around game 24 before falling. Looking at his true shooting percentage, it peaks early at around the 14th game where he had an eye popping 60%, then steadily declines. At the time this article was written it stands at 52.9%, a serious drop from it’s earlier season average.
There could be a lot of theories on why Felton has gone cold. Could it be problems with the pick & roll? The toll of the heavy minutes? Lack of an adequate backup? Gallinari’s injury? Something like this doesn’t have to be over analyzed. The most simple solution is that he wasn’t that good to begin with. Look at Felton’s three point shooting over the same time period.
In Charlotte Felton wasn’t a good three point shooter. Twice in five full seasons he averaged less than 30% from downtown. Additionally the Knick point guard hasn’t been an efficient scorer during his career. Felton’s best TS% prior to this season was 52.5%, and thrice he failed to score efficient enough to top 50%. In fact even though he’s currently at 52.9%, his career rate is only 49.8%. I’ve read fans tout Amar’e-Melo-Felton as a New York triumvirate, but no matter how low your opinion is of Carmelo, Felton is the odd man out.
When Felton was red hot, the Knicks were winning games at a high rate. So it’s no surprise that New York has struggled now that he’s dropping closer to his career averages. Prior to the start of this season, the concern with Raymond Felton was whether his final year with the Bobcats was a fluke. If that season was an outlier, and his true value is more in line with his seasons prior then Felton still has some way to go before he reaches those depths. The question is not will he recapture the play he had earlier this year, since that seems to be far above what he is capable of producing on a long term basis. Instead the more serious concern is how much lower will things get for Raymond Felton?