Raymond Felton, like many other fans, watched ESPN this week unveil their "NBA Summer Forecast," which included a prediction of how the Eastern Conference would stack up next season.
The Knicks starting point guard couldn't believe that ESPN's 215-member forecast panel picked his team to finish fifth in the conference. He's also heard other media outlets overlook the Knicks.
New York Knicks
"I'm like, 'How can y'all even say this?'" Felton told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday at an Under Armour event in New York City for his upcoming basketball sneaker. "We made changes and I feel like we got better, and we were the No. 2 team [last season]. We won over 50 games, we won our division, but y'all going to sit here and say that, 'Just because Brooklyn made some changes, they'll overpower us just like that, like we have no chance.' Come on.
"You can put 10 guys on the court and all of them are All-Stars, but they got to work as a team, they still got to work together. I feel like sometimes that's tough. You never know; you have different egos and personalities that you have to deal with on the court. Sometimes they don't mix."
Felton said the team's returning players, along with new acquisitions who will be key complementary pieces, are reasons why they should be taken seriously in the East.
"The core of our team is still there, and we added some more pieces that make us better," he said. "So I don't understand why they're not saying we're better. I love it though. ... It makes me hungry, it makes my teammates hungry to go out there and just try to win."
For most of the summer, Felton has been in North Carolina playing pickup games at his alma mater, UNC, and working out with basketball skills coach Gilbert Abraham, shooting specialist Keith Veney and fitness trainer Denny Starr. He'll be down there the next three weeks and returning to NYC after Labor Day, which is when many of the Knicks are planning to get together to begin player-organized workouts and scrimmages.
Here are a few more interesting nuggets from Felton:
On the Eastern Conference: "Now, it's the East taking over the West, and you never know. One through five, you can kind of count on who it's going to be, but after that? Washington is good. They've got a young, good team with a lot of older guys like Nene [Hilario], who's going to be healthy. Emeka Okafor is going to be there. Trevor Ariza. They've got pieces. Then you've got Cleveland with Kyrie [Irving], they've got Andrew Bynum, Tyler Zeller, Tristan Thompson. So it's like everybody's getting better, man. You can't come in and be like, 'This is a for sure win.'"
On the team's main new additions: "All those guys are going to help us big-time. [Andrea] Bargnani is going to space the floor. When we play a team like Indiana, those guys can't sit back in the paint. We've got a big guy that can shoot the ball out there. As far as Ron [Artest] or Metta [World Peace] -- I'm going to call him whatever, man -- he can do everything. He can guard 1 through 5. He's just a warrior. He's a winner, he has a ring -- something a lot of guys in this league don't have. I don't. Then you've got Beno Udrih. He's a great point guard. He's very underrated, so he's going to come in and help us tremendously. He's another younger guy. And Pablo [Prigioni], I'm happy to have him back. I liked the two point-guard lineup; it was fun. ... So I like our chances [next season]."
On his training: "I'm working on just being a more vocal leader on the court, talking a little bit more. That's one of the things coach Woody wants from me this year. Basically last year, I was just getting my feel back with the team, coming back for the first time. I didn't want to come in just screaming and yelling. You've got to come in and earn that, so this year I'll be a little bit more vocal, more of a leader. As far as on the court and my game, I've been working hard, man, on everything -- just trying to be more consistent, just trying to get better."
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