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New York Knicks’ Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd Form a Double Edge Sword

December 6th, 2012 at 8:00 AM
By Matt Agne

Raymond Felton has done a wonderful job running the offense the entire season for the New York Knicks. He's given them a steady quarterback who gets his teammates involved and can score within the offense. He's tough, he's gritty, he's a bulldog with a basketball and he plays like he was born to represent New York. While Felton is the quarterback, Tyson Chandler is the defender, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are the stars, J.R. Smith is the spark but Jason Kidd is what makes the entire machine that is this seasons New York Knicks run correctly. He's a coach on the court and his ability to play shooting guard has allowed the Knicks to start him next to Felton, giving them a unique look with a two point guard combination.

'My new sword' photo (c) 2007, Henri Bergius - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

We don't need to review Jason Kidd's career to know he's got the goods. You don't play as long, have as much respect and record the kind of numbers he has without being very talented and hard working. However, despite it being well known that he was brought to New York to mentor Jeremy Lin, it's his basketball IQ that many overlook.

Despite Lin leaving for Houston and Kidd playing at shooting guard he has still filled the mentor role on the Knicks. It's just that Raymond Felton is the guard learning at the feet or the master. Felton is no slouch and certainly not nearly the novice Lin is but he is also smart enough to know there is plenty of room for improvement in his game and even more he can learn from a veteran like Kidd.

As such, Felton and Kidd have formed a powerful duo on and off the court. Felton starts as the point guard with Kidd by his side as the shooting guard. They can be seen communicating on every play and every break from action. Off the court, Felton picks Kidd's brain. Most importantly, he listens.

It's not the big things that separate the good from the great but the little things — the details, the nuances — that form the elite. Kidd is a fountain of knowledge. Felton is smart enough to take advantage of Kidd's presence instead of resenting it like many of todays youth might. As a result, Felton's basketball IQ is expanding and his play has reflected it.

'Felton, Minnesota' photo (c) 2005, Andrew Filer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Beyond the knowledge, Kidd can still play. Is he old? For a professional basketball player, yes. However, he works tirelessly to stay in shape and despite the loss of some of his lateral quickness and his speed he still has fast hands that allow him to make a defensive impact and uses his basketball IQ to put himself and his teammates in easier situations to succeed. 

Kidd is largely responsible for getting his teammates into the right position on the floor and allows Felton to sometimes play off he ball, giving the Knicks a second point guard on the floor and therefor a second shooting guard on the floor as well. It's a tough matchup for teams and it helps make sure that the Knicks have their proper spacing and alignment on most offensive sets.

Up to this point, the duo that has had as much to do with the Knicks’ torrid start as anyone. They've been a vast improvement over last year’s point guards. The Knicks were completely dysfunctional at point guard last season. There was Linsanity, Iman Shumpert playing out of position, Toney Douglas playing hurt, Baron Davis being hurt and then playing until he gets hurt and Mike Bibby trying his best with diminished skills. Felton and Kidd are leaps and bounds ahead of that group.

Most fans were eager to see Felton return. However, the jury was pretty much out on the Kidd signing. Some supported it and some thought it was a horrible idea. Now every Knicks fan would agree that Kidd's addition to New York's roster has been an absolute pleasure to witness.

'Kidd' photo (c) 2011, p-a-t-r-i-c-k - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

In the duo, the Knicks have professionals. They are both guys that know how to play and aren't fazed by the insane hype machine that is New York. Instead of the duo dissolving into the type of nightmare New York is famous for they, and the rest of their teammates, have bought into Mike Woodson's message and are focused on winning.

Kidd is still one of those players with a feel for the game that is a pleasure to watch and he's rubbing off on Felton. The combination of Felton and Kidd may not be as popular with headline writers as Lin was but they are more technically sound and effective. We've seen enough Lin-inspired puns anyway. The double edge sword of a two point guard system is working.

It might not last past Amare Stoudemire's return but for now it is a large reason for the Knicks 13-4 start. Anyone doubting their impact should just watch the final moments of last nights victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. Not only did Felton play his heart out in front of his family but he was in on the drive to the hoop with J.R. Smith.

It was Kidd who had the instincts to call a time out when Smith backed away from the two-on-one advantage he and Felton had. It was Kidd that gave Woodson the opportunity to draw up a play, Felton who cleared out the side when he was covered despite being the first option and Kidd who inbound the ball to Smith for the winning shot. It was the duo that allowed the Knicks to pull off the victory despite not having Carmelo Anthony down the final stretch of the contest due to injury. Felton and Kidd have been the double edge sword cutting through the Knicks competition this season. Take notice. This is something special.

Tags: Amare Stoudemire, Basketball, Charlotte Bobcats, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, Mike Woodson, NBA, New York, New York Knicks, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler

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