I was recently able to take in one of Felton's most recent games in Charlotte to see just how the former Latta High star is faring in the NBA game. Our trip to Charlotte was on March 20th to catch the Bobcats in a battle with the Cleveland Cavaliers featuring Lebron James. The battle that ensued was a great surprise considering the Cavs were coming in with a 8 game winning streak and the Bobcats were coming off a 2 game losing skid.
In the early going Felton struggled mightily with his handles as he continuously turned the ball over. Frustration set in for him and he was relegated to the bench for a few minutes to gather himself. I've seen Raymond play throughout his career and it was extremely uncharacteristic of his ballhandling abilities to commit so many turnovers. My first thought was that I'd come to see him play and he was going to suffer one of his worst games of the year.
It wouldn't be long that those fears would be put to rest. Those few minutes to observe from the bench served Felton well. He came back in and helped keep the Bobcats close in the first half as they trailed 46-37 at halftime.
The second half saw the Bobcats surge behind the offense of budding superstar Gerald Wallace and new sparkplug Walter Hermann. Matt Carroll and rookie Adam Morrison also hit some key buckets down the stretch to help send the game into overtime where Felton and Hermann both his some big baskets to upend the Cavaliers.
Felton ended up with 17 points (6-20 from the field), 6 assists, and 9 turnovers. The brunt of those turnovers came in the first quarter, at least 5 of them.
Lately the Bobcats have tinkered with their lineup inserting Hermann as a starter and they have recently won 4 of their last 5 games due to the play of Wallace, Hermann, and Felton.
At this point Felton's shooting still remains his biggest flaw currently but with continued work I can see him becoming one of the elite point guards in the NBA eventually. He's already a dynamic penetrator and can find the open man but right now there are too many nights where he's settling for jumpshots and they just won't fall for him. Once his perimeter shot starts to fall with consistency the sky is the limit for Felton.
Currently Felton is averaging 14 points, 7.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.42 steals, and 3.02 turnovers per game. Shooting just 38% from the floor however is where Felton must find a way to improve upon this offseason. The tools for success are in place he just has to find a way to find the bottom of the net more consistently.
SCPrepNation.com will have more on former South Carolina prep standouts like Raymond Felton so stay tuned.
-Gerald Wallace should be an all-star caliber player for years to come. He's made some hellacious plays tonight and in fact he's shown up Lebron on a few key plays whether taking him to the bucket or swatting his shot late in the game.
-Lebron James is worth the price of admission. Wallace may have got the win tonight but this kid is the real deal. A guy his size shouldn't be able to do the things he does on the court with such ease. A nasty dunk in traffic and his salute to former Cavalier coach Paul Silas (who was in the crowd sitting next to us) was jawdropping.
-The Bobcats better sign Walter Hermann to a long term deal. The guy is a joy to watch on the court. He hustles all out and made some huge plays considering he's been on the pine most of the season. Maybe Bickerstaff should have given him minutes earlier in the year and the Bobcats could be making a playoff run despite their rash of injuries.
-Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a big dude! Silas said he was underappreciated and after watching him play I had to agree. He's not the most athletic guy but when you're 7'3, can post up and make buckets on the block, and can shoot from outside with consistency you don't have to outjump guys.
-I'm still on the fence about Adam Morrison. He did flash some of the ice in his veins like his days at Gonzaga with a huge 3 pointer late in the game. I think he's a year or two away from finally justifying his selection. Time will tell.