Paroxysm At Gametime: Raymond Felton And The Blazers’ New Velocity

Photo by istargazer on Flickr

Paroxysm Gametime merges HP’s usual theoretical and philosophical meanderings with actual game coverage. In our first installment, Scott Leedy was on the scene at Nuggets-Blazers at the Rose Garden to find out why all of a sudden, the Blazers actually are faster for once. 

Raymond Felton has seen a lot change in the past year. Last summer Felton signed as a free agent with with New York only to be traded to Denver as a part of the Carmelo Anthony deal.  Then on draft night he was sent to Portland as part of a package for Andre Miller. The chaos of moving from city to city stands in stark contrast to stability of his early career. Felton played high school ball in South Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina where he won a national championship. He was then drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats and spent the first 5 years of his career there.   While the transitions haven’t been easy Felton is taking it all in stride.

“It’s not been hard,” Felton said Thursday prior to the Blazers’ win over Denver Thursday night. “It’s a part of the league, anybody can get traded. This is a business and I learned that. It really doesn’t bother me at all.”

But Portland’s new point guard does concede it was always good being closer to home. “Home is home. You see family all the time. You’re just in your comfort zone. So being all the way out west, is different”.

Still, Felton feels as though he’s found a new home in Portland. “Other than the fact that it rains a lot,” Felton says with a laugh..

On the court Felton has allowed the Blazers to play a much more aggressive and fast paced game, predicated on pushing the tempo. Nate McMillan’s teams have always had a reputation of being incredibly slow paced and deliberate; always ranking near the bottom of the league in pace. While it’s only been three games, according to John Hollinger of ESPN the Blazers rank second in the league in pace. Much of this has to do with Felton’s speed and skill set, but also what Felton believes to be a shift in philosophy.

“[We’re] trying to change the team. Instead of being a half court team and one of the lowest scoring teams in the NBA, we want to push the tempo. If we get a turnover, or a rebound, all the [other] guys gotta do is spot up and be ready. I’ll get it to them… I’m [going to] make the right play”.

Certainly Felton has no shortage of offensive weapons, the most important being LaMarcus Aldridge. Felton raved about Aldridge Thursday, saying, “He does everything. He’s a big man that [has] great hands, he can play with his back to the basket, and put it on the floor to get his own shot”.

Aldridge in turn spoke on the benefits of playing with his new disher. “He makes it easy,” Aldridge said. “I just pick and he gets me the shot. I have to read it but when you have a good guard who knows how to run the pick it roll, they make it easy”.

With Felton and Aldridge the pick and roll is bound to be an extremely effective play for the Blazers. As Felton describes it, “The big man can’t try and stay with me and get back to Lamarcus on the pop out… So I really only have to worry about one guy; the guy in front of me. If he keeps coming I’m going to throw it to LaMarcus. If not, I can take him one-on-one and attack, not necessarily to get my own shot but to get someone else a shot.”

Despite missing all of training camp and playing only a few games together, Felton had Aldridge have already developed a good rapport. Felton noted, “For it only being game three, we’ve got a great continuity with each other and it’s going to get better.” That’s a scary thought for opposing defenses.

For both Felton and the Blazers the transition from a slow-paced offense to a more up tempo style doesn’t come without headaches. On Thursday night the Blazers turned the ball over 25 times. Higher turnover totals are certainly part of the territory of a more aggressive offensive style but coach Nate McMillan thought it got “too fast” at times and Felton said” we gotta work on [taking care of the ball], I gotta work on [taking care of the ball]”. But this is a very talented Blazers team that has somehow garnered little attention or praise.

For Raymond Felton that’s just the way he likes it.

“That’s cool,” Felton said of there being little hype around the team. “Don’t even talk about us. Keep it just the way it’s going I wanna stay right under the radar”.

Sorry Raymond but this team is too fun, too exciting, too completely and totally awesome; the talking starts now.

Author’s Note: Special thanks to Ben Golliver of Blazersedge for showing me the ropes. You can read his repot from the game here.

Scott Leedy

Scott Leedy is a Junior at The University of Oregon studying Political Science and Pre-Med. Above all else Scott loves Tracy McGrady and has made it his life goal to ensure that no one ever forgets his greatness. You can follow Scott on twitter: @ScottLeedy.