Since Felton returned on Jan. 26, however, the Knicks are 6-3. No one has benefited more from his return than Carmelo Anthony.
His 42-point performance against the Los Angeles Clippers provides evidence to such a truth.
With Felton out of the lineup, Anthony shot just 41.4 percent from the field. To make matters worse, he was averaging 25.8 field-goal attempts per game.
It's not hard to see the direct correlation between those numbers and New York going 6-6.
Since Felton has returned, however, Anthony is shooting 45.2 percent from the floor. He's also averaging 22.1 field-goal attempts per contest.
That's a significant improvement in efficiency and shot selection.
This has come as a direct result of Felton's return to the rotation. With all due respect to Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni, neither has developed the chemistry with 'Melo that Felton has, which is a surprising turn of events.
When the Knicks signed Felton to his second tenure with the team, many expected the primary benefactor to be Amar'e Stoudemire. After all, Felton and STAT combined for a magical first half of the 2010-11 regular season in New York.
Stoudemire was an MVP front-runner and Felton was posting career-best numbers of 17.1 points and 9.0 assists. With the threat of the then-New Jersey Nets acquiring 'Melo, however, the Knicks acted fast.
Felton was included in a deal with the Denver Nuggets to acquire Anthony.
Since Felton has re-joined the team, however, Stoudemire has battled injuries and 'Melo has bounced back from a dismal 2011-12—a season that will forever be remembered for New York's slow start under Mike D'Antoni.
Which is where we begin.
As previously acknowledged, 2011-12 was a year that will be marred by the Knicks' inability to function under Mike D'Antoni. No Knicks player struggled as much in D'Antoni's system as Carmelo Anthony.
In 2011-12, 'Melo averaged 22.6 points per game—his lowest mark since 2005. Anthony did so on a slash line of .430/.335/.804.
That was his lowest field-goal percentage since his rookie season in 2003-04.
In 2012-13, however, Carmelo is averaging 28.7 points on a slash line of .451/.409/.828. Not only is that a turnaround, but this has been one of 'Melo's best shooting seasons.
Anthony is shooting a career best from beyond the arc.
As a result, the Knicks have jumped out to a record of 32-17 and sit just two games behind the Miami Heat for first place in the Eastern Conference. A major reason for 'Melo's individual success and the Knicks' team achievement is Raymond Felton.
The question is, what is it that Raymond Felton is doing to make 'Melo's job so easy? Quite simply, he created a role for Anthony to fill.
For the first time in his career.
Defining a Role
In previous seasons, the New York Knicks tasked Carmelo Anthony with both scoring and facilitating for their offense. Such was a result of injuries and inconsistency at the point in 2011-12.
As a result, Anthony averaged 3.6 assists per game—his most since 2007.
The fact of the matter is, Anthony was forced to do too much. Both Mike D'Antoni and Mike Woodson allowed the Knicks to become an ISO-ball team, thus leaving Anthony with the task of doing it all on offense.
As a result, 'Melo's shooting percentages dropped and the Knicks' offense became predictable. Raymond Felton has changed all of that.
With Felton in the rotation, the Knicks have created a more defined role for Anthony. That, of course, is to go out and score—something 'Melo is quite capable of doing.
Anthony now works off the ball and finds his way into the spots from which he is most comfortable shooting. Whether that's in the post or along the perimeter, Felton has an uncanny ability to find 'Melo in the right place.
As a result, the Knicks are averaging a full 3.1 points per game more in 2012-13 than they did in 2011-12.
The game is easier for Anthony, which makes one of our generation's greatest scorers all the more dangerous. All of this is a direct result of one simple truth.
'Melo is reaping the benefits of Felton's return to the rotation.
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