Jeremy Lin won’t be making a return to the Big Apple next season, but Raymond Felton will be. After leading the Nets to back to back NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003, Jason Kidd will also make a return to the tri-state area as he too dons orange and blue for the Knicks this fall.
With two quality point guards ready to compete for major minutes, is it obvious which one should start?
Since he signed with the Knicks, it’s been widely assumed Kidd would serve as a backup floor general (originally, of course, to Lin). Because he’s led the Knicks’ offense before (and helped make Amar’e Stoudemire look like an M.V.P. too), Felton’s been regarded as the team’s starting point guard for the upcoming season.
But is it safe to make these distinctions just yet? In a recent interview with KnicksNow.com, Kidd talked about playing alongside guys like Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler. Saying he hopes to STAT’s new Steve Nash, the future Hall of Fame bound point guard seems focused on playing with the Knicks’ “Big Three.”
One would expect a reserve to be more concerned with helping improve teammates with him in the second unit. Though Kidd has said publicly it doesn’t matter whether or not he starts games (simply that he finishes them on the court, instead), perhaps a starting role will serve both he and the team better, given his mentality.
Kidd is coming off the weakest season of his career, in which he averaged only 6.2 points, and 5.5 assists, and 1.7 steals in 28.7 minutes per game. That said, his experience, veteran leadership, and strong fundamentals may make him the better candidate to start games.
A team’s point guard is supposed to be an extension of the head coach on the floor. Coach Mike Woodson would certainly be able to rest easy knowing a quality guard like Kidd is helping the Knicks find a rhythm and get off on the right foot offensively to start things off each and every night.
Felton is absolutely capable of starting and running an offense as well. Having said that, it could probably be argued that he enjoys scoring and has more explosiveness going to the basket than Kidd does. With Iman Shumpert not expected to hit the hardwood again until sometime in January, the Knicks may lack that offensive boost off the bench until then. Felton seems like a better candidate to potentially fill that void.
With Kidd growing older and having already seen his minutes decreased last season with the Mavericks, a case could be made for him to only play around 24 minutes per game. This would be a good way of keeping him fresh throughout the season and into the playoffs.
Perhaps allowing Kidd to run with the starting five, while playing Felton more minutes (as part of a different combination of lineups) as a sixth man would benefit the Knicks.
The team certainly has a lot of talent with an array of versatile players, so the possibility for different lineups are endless. What the team believes will work out best remains to be seen.