To a man, if you asked the Mavs who the best pro was on the team all season long, they’d answer Raymond Felton.
Dallas acquired him along with Tyson Chandler last summer, and Felton figured to be in the rotation once the season started, but he badly injured his ankle during the preseason and the recovery process took far longer than expected. Ultimately, by the time he became healthy, the rotation was already set. Then, in the playoffs, he again suffered an injury, essentially ending his season early.
But through it all, he stayed positive, focused, and productive in the locker room. That matters in this league, especially as a player passes his prime and enters into the final years of his career.
Felton didn’t see much playing time until later in the season, but every time he took the floor, he looked extremely comfortable handling the ball and running the offense. He displayed the type of command you’d expect from a veteran point guard, doing all the little things right: entry passes, spreading the ball around, taking the right kinds of shots. The Mavs certainly missed his floor presence in Game 5, as the game slowly drifted more and more out of control and into chaos in the second half.
He has good size for the point guard position and occasionally even slid over to the shooting guard position, and that’s an attribute Rick Carlisle especially values. He plays two point guards simultaneously perhaps more often than any other coach in the league. Felton fit in with that plan, but unfortunately injuries really limited his playing time out of the gate.
Felton’s brightest moment during the regular season came on April 10, when he scored 13 points, including the game-winning basket, and added five assists, four rebounds, two steals, and one block. He even defended Denver’s game-winning attempt, holding his own on a Kenneth Faried post-up.
He contributed, too, in Dallas’ Game 2 loss in the first round, tallying nine points and three assists in 18 minutes. Playing without Devin Harris and, later, Rajon Rondo, Felton saw a huge jump in minutes. Unfortunately, he’d suffer an injury later in the series and wouldn’t even appear in the Game 5 loss.
Felton is one of three Mavs with a player option for next season, joining Monta Ellis and Al-Farouq Aminu. The general consensus is that he’ll accept his player option and return as a Maverick for 2015-16.
Felton will turn 31 this offseason, which in today’s NBA is old for a point guard, as crazy as that seems. But he’s started throughout his career and, when healthy, is still capable of playing starter-caliber basketball. As the Mavs face another offseason of potentially significant roster turnover, it will be interesting to see what happens to the depth chart at point guard if the trio of Felton, Devin Harris, and JJ Barea all return.
Regardless of his playing time, he still demonstrated professionalism and gave the team a veteran presence both on and off the floor, which is very valuable to any team in this league. With regular playing time he can still be a very effective player. So although he’s about to be on the north side of 30, he can still make a positive difference at the NBA level.
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