The New York Knicks have several problems nagging their game right now but none are as easily and quickly fixable as Raymond Felton’s recent undisciplined shooting. There’s a pattern: The more Felton shoots, the worse things go for the Knicks.
Felton has forgotten his role a bit. He was brought back to be sort of an anti-Jeremy Lin. The Knicks were looking for a pass-first, ball-control point guard after the haphazard scoring frenzy of Linsanity.
New York needed a veteran to run the floor under Mike Woodson’s half-court scheme, distribute and protect the ball more soundly and mesh Carmelo Anthony’s and Amar’e Stoudemire’s seemingly incompatible games—none of which really describe Lin’s strengths.
The New York Times points out,
“Part of the thinking behind letting Jeremy Lin leave was that the Knicks, with Carmelo Anthony as the team’s centerpiece, needed a more traditional point guard at the controls...[but] Felton has actually been shooting more often than every other starting point guard in the N.B.A. besides Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook.”
At first, Felton held the line. In his first 14 games, “Duck” averaged about 14 shots per game on 43 percent shooting. This has given way to near 19 field goal attempts on 38 percent in his last 14 games.
Over the same periods, Felton’s assists dropped from 7.1 a game to 5.5.
There’s been a lack of discipline recently that has Felton not doing what he was brought in to do: control and pass the ball.
When Felton shoots more and passes less, the Knicks lose.
If you divide Felton’s season (28 games played) into two halves sorted by number of field goal attempts, something very telling emerges.
In Felton’s highest-shooting games, he averaged 20.4 attempts a game with a high of 30 and low of 16. In the bottom half, Felton averaged a much lower 12.5 attempts a game with a high/low of 15/8.
The result on the Knicks’ bottom line?
New York is 7-7 on Felton’s high-volume shooting nights and 13-1 when the point guard plays it cool. The Knicks need to rein in Felton’s hand to increase the team’s chances of winning.
When Felton has 15 field goals or fewer, the Knicks win 43 percent more of the time (.500 vs. .929 winning percentages).
Another reason for Felton to shoot less is his woeful shooting percentage—it’s under 40 percent for the first time in seven years.
Felton has had several abominably inaccurate games, like the Brooklyn Nets loss when he went 3-for-19 (16 percent). He has shot 30 percent or less in six games, three of which were losses (of eight total losses on the whole season).
The word just came down that Felton’s finger problem that kept him out of the Phoenix Suns game is a little more serious than originally thought. Newsday reported that the injury “initially described as a sprained ligament” is actually a “fracture.”
“He said surgery is a possibility. If that is the course of action, Felton said, there is no reason to believe it would end his season, but it could cost him four-to-six weeks.”
Maybe this is a good thing. Felton could use a time out to review some film and brush up on his responsibilities watching Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni run the floor. They are the epitome of the pass-first point guard.
To be sure, Felton is an improvement over Lin. He has, for the most part, brought the game the Knicks have needed to the point.
But unlike Kidd and Prigioni, it gets away from him sometimes.
Can the aged Kidd and inexperienced Prigioni carry the season at the point, though?
If the Knicks intend on going deep in the 2012-13 postseason and maybe even take the East, Felton needs to get back in this lineup as soon as possible and keep those attempts to 15 or less.
All Stats in this article are accurate as of Dec. 26, 2012