Get your black suits and sunglasses out. No, New York isn’t attending another series ending funeral, but instead celebrating another feather in the cap for Knicks management, as we lay to rest the Raymond Felton vs. Jeremy Lin debate.
As Knicks fans, we have the fondest memories of Linsanity. We remember how badly the Knicks needed something like that to happen in order to rejuvenate their season. We remember outdueling Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at The Garden on a national stage. We remember using his name in place of everything even close to resembling Lin. We remember the couch he slept on throughout most of the season and the secret handshake with Landry Fields. We remember the game-winners and the randomness of it all, but in the end, the poison pill contract he signed got the best of Jeremy Lin.
Most NBA fans spent their summer debating whether the Knicks made the right decision in trading for Felton rather than retaining Lin. Ideally, both would be suiting up in blue and orange, but an obnoxious luxury tax made it too unreasonable to happen. So the Knicks carried on with their win now philosophy, sporting a seven-year veteran at point guard instead of grooming the future for someone with 25 starts under their belt.
Upon arrival, it was assumed that Felton would do wonders for Amar’e Stoudemire’s game. After all, Felton played the best basketball of his career while hooking up with STAT during the 2010-11 season, averaging 17.1 points and 9.0 rebounds in 54 games with the Knicks. He came into camp in much better shape than he showed to be in the season prior and while Lin was was stuggling to adapt to his new surroundings in Houston, New York was off to a scorching hot start.
What no one saw coming was how compatible Felton was with Carmelo Anthony’s ball dominant game. In the small sample of games that both Lin and Anthony played together in, the point guard wound up as the focal point of the offense. It forced Melo to be efficient with his touches, something that a volume shooter rightfully struggles to adjust to. The scoring ability of Felton brought forth the two point guard set, producing the free-flowing offense that averaged the Knicks 100.0 points per game.
For one small stretch this year, the Knicks might have regretted the Lin-Felton swap, but that was only when Ray had surgery on a broken finger. Over that 15 game period, New York was a mediocre 8-7. The offense was stagnant, and in retrospect, they played their worst ball of the season outside of that despicable West Coast trip.
Although he struggled with the consistency to get back to his early season level in most games for the remainder of the year, Felton has more than proven his worth during the postseason. While Lin was sidelined for two of his team’s six playoff games because of a chest contusion, the veteran has been filling the scoring void for the seemingly absent J.R. Smith. In eight postseason games, Ray is averaging 16.9 points (enough to be his regular season career high) in almost 39 minutes per game. With Smith ice cold and Jason Kidd even colder, Felton has continued to show the gusto and bravado needed to succeed in embracing the moment. Indiana’s depth at guard is nonexistent and we should see more of the same from Felton this series as the Knicks look to exploit that matchup.
Felton has continued to step up and impress all year long, and has erased the yearning for Jeremy Lin in this city, something that speaks for itself. In outdoing Lin throughout most of the season, Felton has also helped New York Knicks management prove their worth just the same.