With the Knicks 2011 season almost upon us, it’s time to analyze the roster. Usually teams have some stability from one year to the next, but New York has only a third of the players returning. How New York is going to perform is more of a mystery than previous years. This year’s I’ll look at each position and attempt to address the critical question for those players.
Point Guards: Is this really an upgrade?
Last year if you had to find a single scapegoat for the Knicks abysmal record, you might want to place some horns on Chris Duhon. He played the 5th most minutes on the team, while providing virtually no offense (8.6 pts/36). His scoring was so futile that he would often drive into the paint and be left alone, only to kick the ball out in lieu of an easy layup. Defenses were able to play off of Duhon and concentrate on his teammates, disrupting the offense.
So this season New York decided to invest $7M on a new point guard: Raymond Felton. Based on last year’s stats it seems that Felton is an upgrade to Duhon. He had a better true shooting percentage (TS%: 52.5% to 50.1%) and three point percentage (3P%: 38.5% to 34.9%) while scoring nearly five more points per 36 minutes (pts/36: 13.2 to 8.6). Additionally he was a better ball hawk (stl/36: 1.7 to 1.0) and rebounder (reb/36: 3.9 to 3.1). However a look at his career stats show Duhon’s superior in regards to true shooting percentage (52.4% to 49.3%) and from downtown (36.2% to 32.7%). It’s painful for me to write this, but over the course of their careers Duhon had been a more efficient scorer than Felton.
So it boils down to which Raymond Felton are the Knicks getting? Unfortunately even last year’s Felton wasn’t a big upgrade over Duhon. Even worse if that was a fluky career year, then the Knicks have made no progress. Ultimately it means they didn’t significantly upgrade the one position that is most crucial for a Mike D’Antoni run team. From what I’ve seen, the Knicks’ coach requires his point guards to be good passers, hence why he stuck with Duhon last year. Statistically there isn’t much of a difference between the old point guard and the new one. So if Felton hurts the New York offense with poor shooting, it’s likely that D’Antoni will stick with him as well, much to the team’s detriment.
The backup PG will be Toney Douglas, although it’s possible that he’ll play more SG than PG this year. Douglas is more of a scorer than Felton, but a better passer than his predecessor Nate Robinson. Last year Douglas was the forgotten man until mid-March but he played well once given the opportunity. His TS% was well above average (57.1%) and he provided strong defense on the perimeter. Douglas struggles running the offense, as his low assist total (3.7 ast/36) would attest. This year I don’t see D’Antoni ignoring him like last year, but I do see him as a huge underdog in unseating Felton. In the end I think he’ll fit nicely as the backup guard role, much like Barbosa did in Phoenix.
At the end of the line is Andy Rautins. It’s hard to predict how Rautins will do in the NBA, because he was a three point specialist who played mostly zone for the Orangemen. The rookie looked over matched in summer league, but has looked capable in limited minutes this preseason. Considering how selective D’Antoni is with his PGs, I don’t see him playing a lot of minutes, at least early on. However if in D’Antoni’s mind Felton isn’t cutting it, and Douglas isn’t the type of PG he wants, then Rautins could have a small window to show his stuff.
Did the Knicks Upgrade the PG position in 2011?
- A little bit. (60%, 380 Votes)
- Greatly. (32%, 203 Votes)
- Not at all. (8%, 52 Votes)
Total Voters: 635