New York Knicks: Why Raymond Felton Is Riskier Than Jeremy Lin
At this point, we've all digested the news that Jeremy Lin is no longer a Knick. His deal with the Rockets is official, and the Knicks will be moving forward without the man who brought loads of excitement to a season that was otherwise fairly joyless.
A lot of people have dissected the decision to take Felton over Lin from a business perspective. Some have argued that Lin's enormous third-year salary made the contract a bad idea, while others have made the point that Lin's popularity made him indispensable from a marketing standpoint.
Those are bought legitimate viewpoints, and I wouldn't say definitively that either side is right or wrong. But I'm more interested in looking at this move strictly from a basketball perspective.
In that sense, it was a very baffling choice.
While Lin was electrifying during his tenure as the Knicks starting PG, his sample size is very small, and it's unknown whether or not he can play even close to that level in the future. With that said, it makes no sense to replace him with Felton—someone who we know isn't very good. Felton has been in the league seven years, and he's about one and a half good seasons—his 2009-10 campaign with the Bobcats and the first half of the 2010-11 season with the Knicks, when he was, admittedly, pretty solid.
The rest of the time? He's been consistently below average.
His win shares per 48 minutes frequently falls below the league average of .100, and his career average in that area is an abysmal .067. Last season was especially bad, as he put up a pathetic .042, the second lowest of his career.
Some may point out that this statistic can be misleading.
After all, Marvin Williams had a higher win shares per 48 minutes last season than Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo, so the statistic certainly is flawed. However, if you watched Felton play for the Blazers, you know the numbers aren't hiding any secretly good play.
Felton was overweight, uninspiring, and a big part of why a team that looked like a contender wound up falling well short of the playoffs. Quite simply, Felton tends to be a player who drags a team down.
The idea is that Lin was too risky to keep, but how is Felton not a much bigger risk? The Knicks are hoping that a player who is consistently mediocre and is coming off a downright terrible season can magically return to his 2010 self just by putting on a Knicks jersey.
Lin might not have a large sample size of strong play, but he doesn't have a half-decade of uninspired play on his resume either.
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