You’re down to one guard to pick for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, and the choices are Ray Allen and Raymond Felton. Which Ray do you go?
Coming into the season, it’s a no-brainer. Allen, on the basis of a distinguished career, makes the East team hands down. He’s second all-time in 3-pointers made and the leader among active players. Nine All-Star Games on are the résumé. He’s a career 20-point scorer with more than 21,000 career points.
Not only can Allen shoot, he can shoot in the clutch with games on the line. He’s a great teammate and, perhaps most importantly, Allen has won. Two of the last three years, his Celtics have played in the NBA Finals, winning it all in 2008.
While there’s obviously a career achievement element to All-Star elections that can’t be ignored, whether through voting by fans or coaches, let’s stop and consider the half-season Felton has put together. In his first year with the resurrected New York Knicks, Felton is out-playing Allen in most meaningful stats.
New York’s playmaker is outscoring the Celtic sharpshooter (17.6 – 17.5) going into today, has an understandable huge assist edge (8.8 – 3.1), is outrebounding (3.9 – 3.7) and is doubling up on steals (1.8 – 0.9). Allen does has sizable leads in shooting percentages from the floor on all shots (51.3 to 42.8) and 3-pointers (46.8 – 34.4).
One can argue that Allen would put up even better numbers if he didn’t share the load with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Maybe, but it could also be presumed that playing with those guys makes it easier for Jesus Shuttlesworth to get his.
Felton is a vital second banana to Amar’e Stoudemire on Broadway. He’s not only the Knicks’ second-leading scorer, but Felton is sixth in the league in assists. The North Carolina product had always put up solid numbers, with his best season being three years ago — 14.4 points and 7.4 assists. Are his numbers now skewed by Mike D’Antoni‘s system?
On the basis of stats, I’d give Felton the slight leg up. But what about intangibles? Ah, here it gets tricky. Allen is part of the defending conference champs and Boston currently leads the East. Winning has to count for something. The Knicks are mired in a bit of a slump, but they are in the playoff picture, checking in at sixth and have made pro basketball at Madison Square Garden relevant again. That can’t be discounted in the world’s largest media market.
Remember neither of these guys is going to start. In the latest voting returns, Allen checked in a distant fourth and Felton eighth. All-Star voting concludes Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. ET. Fans can still cast their votes on NBA.com and by mobile phones. Paper balloting in arenas has ended.
Their All-Star worthiness is going to be left up to the coaches. They may pick one, both or neither. Better the coaches than me.