Jeremy Lin vs. Raymond Felton (A Matchup of Uncertainty)

As the Knicks decline to match the Rockets’ offer for Jeremy Lin, we can only wonder if “Linsanity” will continue or will it fade faster than the Triple XL T-Shirt phase. When Lin decides to take his talents to Houston, the Lin memes will continue, but will it be as big? Up until his midseason explosion in February this year, he was virtually unknown. Since then, he’s been a household name everywhere and even won an Espy.

If he was in Houston when this happened would Lin have blown up as big? New York is the mecca of basketball so it’s hard to argue any place other than maybe Los Angeles that can market a player. That’s not a knock on the Rockets franchise who have been making big moves in the offseason, making them a playoff contender this year. I’m merely saying that New York is on it’s own level when it comes to revering athletes and if he put up these types of numbers on other teams the response wouldn’t have been as big.

Now the former Harvard PG has said he wanted to stay in New York, so this more falls on the Knicks for deciding not to pursue him further. There is so much criticism being thrown at the front office for letting him go, but should this guy be getting much credit for only producing for half a season?. As great as Lin was for the Knicks in their most desperate hour, to have this much hype right now is just “Linsane”.

Keeping that in mind, is it better to put your faith in Lin or Raymond Felton who they just received from the Trail Blazers after struggling since the original trade from the Knicks. With Baron Davis out and Iman Shumpert’s availability for next year in question, the Knicks decided to go with Raymond Felton and an aging Jason Kidd, who was also just arrested last week for suspected DWI. As everyone in the sports world shakes their head in this, I’m here to compare the two point guards, who certainly are not on anyone’s top ten lists (I hope) and show why Felton actually makes sense on the Knicks roster.

Looking at these two guys, I compare it to going to the movie theater. When there’s a movie you’re dying to see the first thing you want to watch is a trailer or commercial. It’s important to see a preview of the movie to see what you’re spending your money on. However, 30 seconds to 2 minutes can’t always show whether it’s going to be a box office hit or a flop. The previews might look great but that doesn’t always mean it’s going to be great. Sometimes it can look like it’s amazing, awesome and everything you want in the movie, but it turns out all the important action scenes or Will Ferrell one liners are all in the preview.

Bringing us back to basketball, this scenario is similar to Lin’s stint with the Knicks. Having only played in 35 games last year, New York only got a small showing of his potential. Maybe he will turn out to be a consistent 15 and 5 type of guy, perfect in the Knicks offense. Or maybe he’ll turn out to be fluke and flatten out.

Going back to the movies reference, Felton is a movie that had great reviews early on, but since then has slowed and “Rotten Tomatoes” has it rated terribly. What I mean by this was when Felton came to the Knicks he enjoyed great success averaging 17 points and 9 assists a game (both career highs).  In those 54 games, Felton and A’mare Stoudemire were clicking on all cylinders, offensively at least.  Once he was traded to the Nuggets and then the Trail Blazers, the former UNC great struggled and his stats went down exponentially. Now the Knicks have picked him up again in hopes that he can rekindle that magic he had when he first got there.

In a matchup between the two, you have Lin, a point guard who’s on the upside and has very high expectations for the future, vs. Felton, a player who has had a mediocre career with one good season, it’s not as cut and dry as you think. Lin will certainly benefit from going to Houston, but will the Knicks be worse without him? No. Obviously the Knicks would have been better off if they received Steve Nash, but Felton has the potential to be just as effective as Lin for New York next year.

Here’s why:

  • Both players have the ability to push the ball. This is where Lin was most effective, running around and keeping the defensive on their heels. Felton being a product of North Carolina can do the same. Don’t be fooled by everyone criticizing his conditioning. He’s only gained 7 pounds since college, he’s always looked a little chubby
  • Both players can facilitate the ball. Felton’s career average is 6 and half dimes per game and as I mentioned 9 during his stint with the Knicks. As a started Lin averages almost 8 a game and during mid-February was in the double-digits several times. The key stat in this is turnovers. Felton averages under 3 turnovers a game. While it was slightly over 3 when he was on the Knicks, there were never any wild or out of control passes. Lin averages over 3 and a half turnovers per game, which is not a good stat for someone who is supposed to be the floor general. For all of his speed and up tempo play, Lin was all out of control and erratic with his passes at times.
  • Both players can shoot the ball. You’ve seen Lin put up 37 points on the Lakers and shoot the lights out from all over the court. But Felton can also stroke the ball. He might not be putting up those types of numbers, but he can shoot from anywhere on the court.

For the Knicks it’s unfortunate they parted ways with Lin because of what he did to reenergize the city, but at the end of the day, Felton could prove a valuable asset. Don’t forget, if all of the negative attention surrounding Jason Kidd right now clears up, Felton will be taught be one of the best PG’s to play the position. And for those of you saying Jeremy Lin is going to put people in the seats at Madison Square Garden. C’mon, it’s the Garden! People are going to pay to watch the Knicks whether it’s ‘Melo and Stat vying for a playoff spot or their winning 23 games with Nate Robinson at the helm.





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