Well, I'm back. I had to take a few days off from Knick-related internet activities after the news broke that NY was considering trading for Raymond Felton and declining to match Jeremy Lin. I've seen a few fanposts already in support of bringing Felton back. I'm going to try and avoid rehashing the same info others have stated here. I just want to discuss why Lin makes so much more sense for this team than Felton from a basketball perspective.,
Let me begin by saying this: I think most attempts to rate players against each other are foolish and pointless. It's fun, to be sure, but too often we ignore the role these players have for their teams. These comparisons often disregard the fact that players in different roles will produce different stats.
We've seen the statistical comparisons between Ray Felton and Jeremy Lin before. By now, we should all be pretty aware than Lin was by far the more productive player last season. Even if we simply compare him to Felton post-McMillan the answer is pretty clear. That isn't really my concern. My interest in retaining Lin stems from his style of play.
Jeremy Lin is a slasher. That's his game. He's a modest 3 point shooter at best, and a solid free throw shooter. Last season, Jeremy drew fouls at a rate of 15.5%. Compare this to Derrick Rose's 12.6%, Tony Parker's 10.6%, Russell Westbrook's 13%, and Raymond Felton's6.6%. This is where Lin excels. This shouldn't be disregarded as some fluke of sample size; all evidence suggests that it should be his greatest strength. Jeremy Lin is the biggest guard of the four just mentioned (Insert very easy Feltonjoke here. Thanks.), standing a legit 6'3" and weighing over 200 pounds. Despite that size, Jeremy Lin finished last season with the lowest body fat percentage of the New York Knicks, according to a source I have at MSG (Can't out him. Please understand.). Jeremy Lin is also one of the quickest relevant PGs in the league, if his strong pre-draft measurements are any indication. He's a big, strong guard, and that led him to the top 10thpercentile in isolation scoring efficiency last season. I just feel like we should know these things. Jeremy Lin is pretty good at other aspects of being a PG, particularly creating for Tyson Chandler off of the pick and roll, but slashing remains the most impressive part of his game. He draws fouls at a phenomenal rate and has a developed floater to finish over length. He also is improving as a decision-maker after getting into the paint, where many of his turnovers were forced. This is a very different game than Felton's.
Ray Felton is a pick-and-roll point guard. He doesn't have the height or length Lin has, but he's tough and plays above his size. Nearly 40% of his offensive possessions last year occurred as the pick-and-roll ball handler. He was a less-than-efficient scorer in that situation, but he's a capable distributor and LaMarcus Aldridge flourished as his roll man in the 2 man game. Felton seems set to try and recreate the chemistry he had with Amar'e before the Melo trade. This should conceivably help to get STAT back into the offensive titan he was before this past season, but isn't Jason Kidd just as capable of doing that?
Kidd is an exemplary passer. He is perhaps best known as a juggernaut in transition, but he is also a very capable passer in the half-court. I'd assumed that we brought Kidd aboard to help Amar'e by giving him a PG capable of and willing to run the PnR. Trading for Felton only adds to my confusion regarding the Knicks' plans on offense.
Jeremy Lin's slashing game complements Carmelo Anthony's game well. It was alongside slashing PGs like Allen Iverson that Melo truly flourished in Denver. Playing off of their drives forced him to make quicker decisions on offense, where he performs best. He didn't seem comfortable playing alongside Lin immediately, but as long as Lin retained his ability to penetrate I fully expect Melo to get back to form offensively.
This is likely pointless. All signs point to the Knicks declining Lin to retain Felton. I think this is a massive mistake, but it isn't the sign of the apocalypse some of us are making it out to be either. A lot of talk is made about Felton'sconditioning, but that is no more of a great concern to me than Carmelo's was last year. There isn't much evidence that conditioning limited either player, so I choose to focus on more concrete issues both possess. I personally would rather have the slasher/drive-and-kick player Lin is, but having a possibly-good pick-and-roll PG like Felton isn't the end of the world. I guess.