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    Default ESPN Insider: Lin vs. Felton

    Nothing really new, Felton reverting back to the mean and Lin improving. Kind of deadlocked as to who would be the better PG for the Knicks. Just sharing since most of you don't have Insider.

    Revisiting Lin vs. Felton decision

    Originally Published: February 27, 2013
    By [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] | ESPN Insider

    Elsa/Getty ImagesFelton is averaging 14.7 points and 6.0 assists, while Lin is producing 12.7 and 6.2.
    From the standpoint of the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], hoping to justify their decision to let [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] leave in free agency and replace him at point guard with [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], this season couldn't have started any better. Felton was excellent during the month of November as the Knicks got off to a surprising start, while Lin struggled to find his place next to [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] with the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].
    Some three months later, it's worth revisiting the Lin decision. Felton's success, like his team's, has proved fleeting. Meanwhile, the Rockets and Lin are one of the league's hottest teams.
    Misleading month

    You remember November, right? President Barack Obama had just been re-elected, Manti Te'o was merely a linebacker in contention for the Heisman, and the Knicks were one of the NBA's best teams. Behind a flurry of 3-pointers and a smaller lineup with [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] at power forward, New York started the season 14-4. The Knicks capped that stretch with their second win over the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and marked themselves as serious contenders in the Eastern Conference.

    New York's backcourt of Felton and fellow newcomer [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] played a major role in the fast start. Felton made 40 percent of his 3s in November while averaging 14.6 points and 6.7 assists. Kidd was even better beyond the arc at nearly 49 percent. As a team, the Knicks shot 41.6 percent from 3-point range, powering the league's best offensive rating in the month.
    Everyone said the shooting couldn't last, and it didn't. Since Dec. 1, New York has shot exactly the league average (35.8 percent) on 3-pointers. Felton, at 31.4 percent, has been even worse. The Knicks are still a very good offensive team, ranking sixth in points per possession from December onward, but not the juggernaut they once were.
    By The Numbers

    Stat November Since
    NY ORating 110.8 (1) 107.3 (6)
    HOU ORating 102.8 (10) 108.2 (4)
    Felton WARP 1.1 0.2
    Lin WARP 0.3 2.0

    At the same time, as the chart shows, the Rockets were making the opposite transformation, with Lin as one of the leaders. As Houston has figured out how to utilize both Harden and Lin, the Rockets' offense has gone from solidly above average in November to elite. Lin's own statistics, as measured by [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], have seen a similar boost.
    Knicks finding their level

    The Knicks, it turns out, are who we thought they were. Since peaking at 14-4, they have consistently played at about a 45-win pace -- [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]. Project that out through the rest of the schedule and New York figures to finish somewhere around 49 wins, which should be good for third in the East.
    Fears that the crosstown rival [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] will come back to win the Atlantic Division are probably overstated. While the Nets have climbed within two games in the standings, their point differential is barely better than .500, suggesting they're likely to regress somewhat the rest of the way. The same is true of the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], who sit fifth, leaving only the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] with a healthy [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] as a serious threat to the Knicks' top-three seed.
    Felton, it turns out, is also who we thought he was -- not quite as bad as he looked during his disastrous 2011-12 campaign in Portland, but not as good as he played during his first half-season in New York or the opening month this season. As much as Felton's playmaking and his ability to generate steals have helped the Knicks, he has had a tough time scoring efficiently since the 3s stopped falling. Felton is making just 42.4 percent of his 2-point attempts and has seen his true shooting percentage slip to 47.5 percent -- far worse than the league average of 53.2 percent.
    Moving beyond Linsanity

    For both the Knicks and Lin himself, Linsanity has become a distant memory. Gone are the headlines, the screaming fans and the incredible numbers Lin posted as the Knicks' go-to player last February. Instead of getting Linsanity, the Rockets ended up with Jeremy Lin, developing point guard.
    Playing next to Harden, Lin isn't the focal point of the Houston offense the way he was during the stretch that made him a household name. However, he has defied critics by showing the ability to thrive in that smaller role. In part, that's because of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]. It also reflects Lin's 3-point shooting regressing to the mean. After shooting 26.3 percent from downtown in November, Lin is at 34.4 percent since, making him something of a threat when opponents leave him open.
    The funny thing is Lin's 2012-13 stat line is relatively similar in many ways to what he did last year in New York. His effective field goal percentage, for example, is an identical .478. The difference in Lin's offense is entirely a matter of volume. He's down from using 28.1 percent of the Knicks' plays to 20 percent of Houston's, putting him precisely at the typical figure, and his assist rate has dropped by almost a third. Lin's overall performance, All-Star caliber in 2011-12's limited sample, is slightly below league average this season. That's a more sustainable level of play.
    Looking ahead

    Lin's ability to coexist with Harden, who doesn't use as many plays as Anthony but tends to dominate the ball to a greater extent, leads naturally to the question of whether Lin could have fit into an Anthony-centric offense at Madison Square Garden.
    There are advantages to Lin's current situation. Houston's fast pace, and the sheer number of pick-and-rolls the Rockets run as the basis of their offense, give him more opportunity to play in space than he might have had in New York. Still, it's not clear that Felton is any better fit for the Knicks than Lin would have been. According to, the two players have been about equally effective on spot-up opportunities, with Lin averaging 0.91 points per shot to Felton's 0.95. Surprisingly, Lin is a much more frequent spot-up shooter.
    We're also comparing these players as they are now, not as they will be at the end of the three-year contract Houston gave Lin. While Felton, 28, is likely to be about the same player at that point if not take a slight step backward, the 24-year-old Lin still has room to grow as an outside shooter and playmaker.
    The Knicks won the early rounds of the Lin versus Felton decision. If Lin already has pulled even, however, there may be no question who the better choice was in a couple of years.
    Last edited by tiger0330; Feb 27, 2013 at 12:10.

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