COMMENTARY | Raymond Felton was perhaps the New York Knicks' most dependable player in the 2013 playoffs. Not the most skilled player and not the best player. But in a playoffs filled with wild inconsistencies, it was Felton who was the catalyst for most of the offense the Knicks could generate (which wasn't much).
Despite pace being dictated by its opponent, New York jumped out to a 3-0 series lead with defense, 3-point shooting and facilitation from their point guard. Felton was the catalyst in every way for an offense that was scoring 15 points less than they were accustomed to all season long. Even the two games they lost to Boston were huge ones for Felton.
The Pacers series was anything but spectacular for the Knicks. Even though he couldn't drag the Knicks out of the gutter they dug themselves into on offense, Felton was effective throughout the series. Games 3 and 6 were unimpressive entirely, and the timing was bad because that is the night the Knickerbockers got eliminated. However, let's not go after the guy who played nine of 12 extremely quality games in the postseason. We don't need to provide grey-area stats for 12 games. With Tyson Chandler's and J.R. Smith's struggles, it was Felton along with Carmelo Anthony trying to keep the Knicks' offense afloat.
Felton certainly pulled his weight more than we can say about several other big-time Knicks players (not named Carmelo). He was their second-most productive offensive player behind Anthony in the playoffs and did his job while, frankly, some others did not.
The six-game series defeat to Indiana has been a pill that the Knicks and their fans are still swallowing. Getting lost in the end-of-the-season hoopla is something positive: The fact that signing Raymond Felton again was a success for the Knicks.
The 28-year-old South Carolina-native is on his second tour of duty with the Knicks. The first came in 2010-11 when he played 54 games in New York. He excelled and was on pace for his best season ever before being included as a trade chip to Denver for Melo.
A turbulent 18 months later, Felton came back to Madison Square Garden. Now joined up with Anthony, he was there to take the place of Jeremy Lin and Linsanity, which came with its own challenges. A confident, almost boastful Felton was out to prove he was the man for the job for Mike Woodson's Knicks.
I'll be the first to admit I was cautious of the signing. It looked like a panic move when general manager Glen Grunwald realized New York would be left without a point guard. Felton was out of shape entering the 2011-12 season with Portland and ended up with one of his worst seasons ever.
I thought he was a bit of a cowboy at times, too. Couldn't do much but shake my head as he managed to score loads of points in December while shooting some awful percentages. The point guard was taking more shots than the superstar. Assist numbers were there, but selfishness with the ball made it look as though Felton forgot about Melo and J.R. Smith. The stat sheet didn't seem to tell the whole story. There wasn't a great sense of dependability, and I felt he was trying to do too much out there.
Anyone who was like me is forced to his or her words a little bit just like I am. Looking back on the season that was, the former North Carolina Tar Heel brought stability to the position for the most part. He was above his career average in just about every major statistical category and was integral to the Knicks in some of their biggest wins of the season, including at San Antonio and at Miami without Anthony to name a couple.
The Knicks rang in the New Year without their starting point guard, and that is when it became clear they missed him. The team went 6-6 in the 12 games Felton missed and although there were a couple good wins mixed in, they needed Ray back. I changed my tune quickly (I'm sure some others did, too) and eagerly anticipated his return for the rest of the season.
Felton was steady for the last three months, playing his role and running the point for a team that ended with 54 wins and the No. 2 spot in the East. He ended the regular season with 14 points and 6 assists per game on 43 percent shooting from the field -- nothing special, but consistent and exactly what he is paid for.
Going forward, Felton is the man at the point for at least the next two seasons. If he can carry what he brought to the Knicks during the playoffs into next season, the Knicks can be just as potent as they were earlier in this past regular season.
Spacing, ball movement and consistent shooting are the keys to any uptempo offense and the Knicks are no different. At his best, Felton's attributes help in all three categories. And even though he isn't a star by any stretch, Knick fans have reason to be comfortable with him playing point guard for their team.
Even more so going into next season than this past one. With some of the Knicks' big guns playing sub-par basketball at the most meaningful time of the year, Felton was the one to turn to for consistency. The very thing analysts along with fans thought he may not be able to provide.
Brian Sausa is a Queens, New York native who has covered a variety of New York Sports teams for New York Sports World. Twitter @BrianSausa.
- Sports & Recreation
- Raymond Felton
- New York Knicks
- New York