Following a miserable season with the Portland Trailblazers last year, Raymond Felton came into New York with hopes of silencing his critics. “I look forward to this year shutting up everyone’s mouth,” were his exact words.
Thanks to a surprise move from the front office, Jeremy Lin was gone and Raymond Felton was in and called upon to lead the team. Of course, such a task is not easy, especially with the added pressure of needing to live up to the incredible second half of the season that Lin had, in order to appease fans, as well as media personnel.
“Jeremy’s gone. He’s in Houston now. That’s a lost cause. He’s not coming back. It’s my team.”
Felton used all of this to get in shape, as well as to help him have his best game shine through. He wanted to prove that he was not just a point guard, but also a good one. He wanted to prove that to himself, to fans, and to the very critics of his game that criticized the Knicks’ decision to part ways with Lin and acquire Raymond Felton.
So far this season, all in all, Felton has been pretty impressive. There’s one concerning thing, though: We all know that he wants to show up for the big games, but it seems as if Felton is exuding too much in primetime matchups.
I went through Felton’s games and picked out seven “marquee matchups.” They consisted of games against the Houston Rockets (twice), Brooklyn Nets (thrice), Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers. Each of these teams posses a point guard (Lin, Williams, Lawson, Irving) that could get into Felton’s head and force him to try too hard.
In those seven games, Felton averaged 12.85 points and 5.85 assists – not bad. However, if you take a closer look at the numbers, those 12.85 points were coming on a plethora of shots and his turnover/assist ratio was putrid.
In order to get those 12.85 points, Felton attempted 15.71 shots per game, and connected on just 32%% of them. Sure, 5.85 assists is not too bad, but when you consider that he turned the ball over, on average, 3.3 times per game, in those seven games, it becomes a much less impressive statistic. His 1.78 assist/turnover ratio in these seven games would be tied for 66th in the league, with Eric Bledsoe and Austin Rivers.
Most shocking statistic, though? In those five games, Raymond Felton has an offensive rating of 85.5 and a defensive rating of 115.85!
To give a comparison, if we look at the 18 games in which Felton avoided a marquee matchup at the point guard position, we see that his statistics are better: 17 points, on 42% shooting, 6.9 assists, and just 1.94 turnovers per game – an assist/turnover ratio of 3.54, which would be good for 6th in the league, among qualified players.
As you can see, he’s scoring more, while shooting better; he’s assisting more, while turning the ball over less frequently. All-in-all, he’s playing much better when he doesn’t allow the matchup that night get into his head.
Raymond Felton just has to relax. When he is able to handle the matchup in his head, he’s performing very well. He should have nothing to prove anymore, as he’s proved that he’s an NBAer by getting drafted.