Raymond Felton knows better than most how to thrive as appoint guard while playing in the World’s Most Famous Arena.
During his three seasons with the Knicks, Felton averaged 13.4 points per game and 6.6. assists, his best numbers with any his seven NBA teams. SNY Insider Ian Begley named Begley the starting guard on his Knicks All-Decade Team, citing Felton’s importance to the 2012-13 Knicks, the best squad the team has had in the last 20 years.
So when Felton joined Begley and Chris Williamson on the latest edition of The Putback, he was asked about what advice he would give to Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina, two young point guards trying to find their way while playing in the bright lights of New York City.
“Just confidence, man. Having confidence in yourself. Don’t get caught up in just all the pressure,” Felton said in this week’s Putback Extra. “There’s a lot of pressure to play in New York. It’s a lot of pressure. The fans in New York really love basketball, they really love their Knicks, and if you ain’t putting up, they’ll let you know. It’s a lot of pressure. If you can’t take it, and I’ve seen it hurt a lot of people’s careers.
“You’ve got to be tough, you’ve got to be confident, and you’ve got to put in the work. You’ve got to play hard. One thing that I know that New York fans love is people who play hard, who give it all. If you can’t make a shot, you better be doing something else on that court to help this team win or keep us in this game.”
Both Smith and Ntilikina have shown flashes of why they were lottery draft picks, but neither player has consistently been able to score at the NBA level, leaving the Knicks a bit shorthanded when it comes to the backcourt’s scoring output.
But Felton explained that even if the young guards are struggling with their shots, there are other ways that they can impact the game and win over the New York fans.
“That’s one thing I felt in that arena, it’s one thing that I felt from the fans. I think that’s the biggest thing I would help those guys with, just trying to be complete players,” Felton said. “Everybody thinks it’s all about scoring. ‘I’ve got to score all these points to get my money and get this contract,’ and it’s like yeah you do have to be able to put the ball in the basket, you’ve got to score, but there’s a lot of other things you can do, too, to get paid in this league.”