Raymond Felton Must Get Majority of Playing Time over Jason Kidd for NY Knicks
Just when it seemed that Jeremy Lin was surely going to return to the New York Knicks as the starting point guard with Jason Kidd as his mentor and backup, team management made another one of its infamous weird decisions.
As a result, Lin is now on the Houston Rockets and the Knicks already have a point guard controversy long before the season tips off, with Raymond Felton and Kidd expected to battle for the starting job.
Though Kidd is more experienced and a better leader on the floor than his younger counterpart, the facts are still simple. Raymond Felton must be the No. 1 point guard on the depth chart at all times.
Now, the case for Felton isn't exactly strong. This is a man who is coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career, having averaged a career worst 11.4 points per game for the Portland Trail Blazers last year, and also admitted to being out of shape for most of the 2011-2012 campaign.
Seeing as how the Knicks are a team whose success depends on consistency and stability, starting Felton at the point seems like a disaster just waiting to happen.
Yet, while Felton may have his flaws, let's not forget one key factor. He knows the New York fans far better than Kidd. The former North Carolina Tar Heel spent half a season playing for the Knicks just two years ago, averaging 17.1 points and nine assists per game before being sent to the Denver Nuggets as part of the large package for Carmelo Anthony.
Yes, he may not average as many points in Mike Woodson's isolation system, but the fact remains that Felton has been a starting point guard for virtually all of his career and at 28-years-old, he is more than capable of putting his bad season behind him and making himself a contender for the NBA's Most Improved Player Award.
Kidd, on the other hand, doesn't have as much potential in Woodson's system. He's nearing the twilight of his NBA career at 39 years old and is no longer the triple-double threat he was in his younger days.
At this point, while he can still do a decent job of finding the open man, he can no longer drive hard to the basket and the only reliable skill he still has is his three-point shooting, having shot 35 percent from long range for his career.
That being said, giving Kidd more minutes than Felton would turn the latter into a backup point guard whose numbers will indicate underachieving. The only way to get the best out of Felton is to let him play and given how Kidd averaged just 6.2 points and 5.5 assists while shooting a less-than average 36 percent from the field in 28.7 minutes per game last season, the choice should be obvious as to who should start.
That isn't to say that Jason Kidd will be a waste of space on the Knicks' bench. He is still one of the best leaders in the game today and will do wonders in that department for New York, as a positive voice in the locker room is needed to unite everyone.
In a sense, he should pass the torch to Felton and be a willing backup whose primary role is that of a teacher/mentor, as youngsters like Iman Shumpert could surely use some guidance in the development of their game.
This will let Felton do what he does best: run an offense. His 6.7 assists per game may not seem like much, but keep in mind that he has spent most of his career in a conservative system. The man's job is to find the go-to guy or the one with the hot hand, not run the pick-and-roll possession after possession and rack up the assists.
If you think about it, Woodson's system is perfect for him as he can drive to the basket well and also play good defense, just as Lin did when playing under the then-interim coach.
As a result, if the Knicks are to contend this season, it is absolutely critical that the younger Felton be the leader on the floor rather than the elder Kidd.
Giving Kidd more minutes would just be another bad decision and seeing as how the fans have been suffering for over a decade, it's time to give them a starting lineup through which they can feel hope. In this case, that lineup is one with Felton.
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