Why NY Knicks Fans Won't Get the Same Version of Raymond Felton in 2012-13

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09:  Raymond Felton #2 of the New York Knicks drives against Randy Foye #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden on February 9, 2011 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Raymond Felton exploded onto the New York basketball scene in 2010 and then, eight months later, he was gone.

But now he's back. Sort of.

Nearly 18 months after the Knicks shipped Felton off to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony trade, they brought him back to assume the role that was supposed to be Jeremy Lin's.

As difficult as it was for New York to watch the overnight prodigy traipse his way into Houston without receiving anything in return, the Knicks had, by all accounts, made the right decision.

Not only did Lin's resume run just two-months deep, but at 28, Felton is a seven-year veteran. And by this time, New York's roster was laden with—you guessed it—veterans.

So, as much as fans and media pundits tried to protest it and despite what certain statistics showed, Felton was the better fit for the Knicks.

At least, that's what his 2010-11 stat line suggested.

Felton's honeymoon in New York saw him average 17.1 points, nine assists and 1.8 steals per game. He accounted for exactly half of one of the NBA's most highly touted pick-and-roll tandems, and played with a full-court motor, which resembled that of the Energizer bunny. 

Now, as he prepares to make his second regular season debut with the Knicks, those stat lines are suddenly captivating and the prospect of him rekindling the uncanny connection he had with Amar'e Stoudemire is cause for excitement.

For the time being.

What must be understood is that the Knicks are a different team, playing under a different head coach and operating within the confines of a different system. Which means Felton has to be a different point guard.

Sure, New York will still look to run the floor when it can, but it will also look to utilize Carmelo Anthony's isolation savvy and Stoudemire's newly implemented post-up sets; it's not just about running and gunning anymore.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Abiding by half-court sets can be beneficial, especially when you have a player like Anthony who thrives playing bully-ball and even more so when you have a big man who can actually post-up.

That said, such a varying offensive scheme does diminish the importance of Felton's motor. He will no longer be expected to run the floor for up to 40 minutes per game; he won't be given the same green light to shoot that Mike D'Antoni bestowed upon him two years ago.

Instead, Felton is now valuable because of his experience, because of his ability to lead a squad with a bevy of star-caliber egos; this Knicks team calls for him to be more of a mediator and less of a high-octane scorer and pace-pusher.

And that's OK.

No, by many accounts, it's not acceptable that New York threw caution to the wind and latched onto a plethora of players over 30. But this is the team Woodson wanted that presents the type of dynamic he believes he can win with.

So be it. After all, there's no use denying it—Felton isn't going to be the same player he was during the 2010-11 crusade. Because he can't be.

Don't expect Felton to playing nearly 40 minutes per game when a notoriously half-court inclined point guard in Jason Kidd is right behind him. Don't count on Felton taking nearly 15 shots a night when he has the offensive egos of both Anthony and Stoudemire to satisfy.

And most importantly, don't expect him to run up the stat lines the way he did the first time around. Not only is he fresh off an 18-month span that saw him play for three different teams under three separate systems, but he's now learning a fourth, one that doesn't play to the strength's of a point guard the way D'Antoni's did.

Let's not write him off either, though. He's is in better shape than he was last year and surrounded by, at the very least, more versatile offensive options.

But is he better off, are the Knicks better off?

It's much too early to tell. All that's certain is this isn't 2010-11; it's now two years later.

And Felton is now two years removed from the player he once was and the one he is now expected, is now needed to be.