Can the Knicks keep this up?

The offense is clearly better with Felton than it was with Lin; is it sustainable?

Updated: November 23, 2012, 12:15 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | Basketball Prospectus

KnicksMark L. Baer/US PresswireThe play of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd has made life easy for Carmelo Anthony.

With the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the middle and a coach who emphasizes that end of the floor, the New York Knicks were projected to field an elite defense this season. With changes elsewhere on the roster, particularly in the backcourt, we weren't so sure about the offense.

Until the Knicks found their stride in Mike Woodson's isolation-heavy offense late last season, their best defensive stretch came in early February, when Jeremy Lin emerged from obscurity to lead New York to seven straight wins. The Knicks resembled a Mike D'Antoni-coached team for the first time since Carmelo Anthony was acquired from the Denver Nuggets a year before.

Of course, Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire were largely unavailable during the spree, and when they came back, D'Antoni was left to again fit square players into a round offense. And after losing six straight games to playoff-bound teams, five on the road, D'Antoni was gone. Woodson took over and remade the Knicks in his image, going 27-7 in his first 34 regular-season games. He never did find a way to fit Anthony, Stoudemire and Lin together, however, as injuries deprived him of the opportunity to do so.

There is no doubt that New York has been better off in the early going with Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni manning the point guard position, with Jason Kidd chipping in on the occasional possession when he's not burying catch-and-shoot 3s.

When Lin received the back-loaded offer sheet over the summer that eventually led to his move from the Knicks to the Houston Rockets, those in favor of matching the tender cited marketing and branding as reasons just as often as they did the basketball part of the equation. The finances? Since when did that matter to the Knicks?

As we've seen in the early going, Lin is still a developing player who needs to improve his decision-making off the pick-and-roll and how to play without the ball in his hands. The latter part of that will be a key to his ability to fit long-term with James Harden in the Houston backcourt and might have also contributed to New York's decision to let him walk.

There is no doubt that New York has been better off in the early going with Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni manning the point guard position, with Jason Kidd chipping in on the occasional possession when he's not burying catch-and-shoot 3s.

Simply put, Felton has performed better this season for the Knicks than Lin has on the Rockets. Let's take a closer look.


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