2011 Report Card: Toney Douglas

For your typical NBA player entering the third year of his rookie contract, having a half-dozen or so go-to hangouts, avoiding arrest, getting to work without a GPS, and not being shipped to Bismarck, North Dakota would make for a pretty admirable list of accomplishments.

Toney Douglas can probably check off all of these things. As could a number of other guys not named Javaris Crittenton. But there’s one superlative amongst the ranks of soon-to-be Juniors to which the 25-year-old TD can claim sole ownership: The longest-tenured player on his adoptive team.

Which – let’s face it – has a pretty good chance of happening when your organization plows through personnel like a Red Army brigade.

Since being drafted (and immediately traded) by the Lakers with the 29th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Toney Douglas has shared a locker room with an astounding 29 different teammates (and one “eddycurry”). Numerous times, and particularly during the Carmelo Anthony saga, the Georgia native was mentioned as possible trade bait. But with deal after roster-imploding deal, TD’s #23 was the only jersey that continually emerged from – and descending into – the dank Garden tunnel; the lone, noble cockroach spared the nuclear fate of a franchise’s self-imposed apocalypse.

As such, we’ve been able to watch Douglas mature and evolve from an erratic, streaky scorer with a knack for lockdown D… into a slightly less erratic, streaky scorer with a knack for lockdown D. Coming as it did on the heels of an impressive rookie campaign largely lost amidst talk of savior free agents, Douglas’ sophomore campaign was a mixed bag. While he improved his per-36 numbers in rebounds (3.6 to 4.5), assists (3.7 to 4.5), steals (1.4 to 1.6), and turnovers (1.8 to 1.6), he regressed slightly in points per 36 (15.9 to 15.6), TS% (57% to 53%), and 3P% (39% to 37%). Along the way, he provided as many marvelous, confidence inducing performances (his Knick record-tying 9 three pointers in a 29-point late season barrage against Memphis) as he did tongue-gnawingly painful duds (1-12, 3 points against the Pacers, his attempt at a beard, etc.).

This is Harry Douglas, wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons and brother of our beloved Toney. I drafted Harry with my 15th and final pick in this year's fantasy draft. Why? Because I love karma almost as much as I love Toney Douglas. But not nearly as much as I love unnecessarily long photo captions.

Interestingly, TD’s schizophrenic play served as a kind of bellwether for the team writ large. The Knicks were 25-16 when Douglas scored 10 or more points, which, according to my calculations, means that the Knicks would’ve won 50 games had TD scored ten or more in all of them. It’s science.  What’s more, the Bockers were 4-3 during regular season games in which Douglas started, with two of the losses being against the Mavericks (You remember that one, right? My door does.), and a meaningless season finale against the Celtics (We won’t count the three playoff losses against said Celtics. Because I said so). For those first six games in early March, Douglas – starting for a quad-hobbled Chauncey Billups – averaged 16.8 points, 6.8 assists, and 3.5 rebounds on 58% shooting (including 49% from beyond the arc). Not too shabby.

All the while, TDDWTDA(as in Always)D… on D, providing by far the most consistent defensive effort on a team that often led on they’d have more fun memorizing Canterbury Tales. Even when he was clearly playing hurt (the shoulder injury which hobbled Douglas late in the season was severe enough to warrant an immediate, post-season surgery expected to keep him from a Spalding for at least three months) he was diving for loose balls, chasing after long rebounds, and providing a nagging (if sometimes overly-zealous) presence against ones and twos alike. Even if his overall offensive development stagnates, it’s clear that Douglas – who won both the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award and the league scoring title his senior year at Florida State – has more than one rotation-ready skill to wield.

As for his prospects as a reliable floor general, the jury might as well pitch their tents and order takeout for at least the next year. There’s no shortage of folks who believe Douglas would be better served simply focusing on improving his scoring prowess (and efficiency) and forging a niche as an effective, off-the-bench combo guard and defensive stopper. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Douglas had to face up to doubts about his decision-making and overall distributive skills; the last time it happened, in the wake of a Freshman year at Auburn which saw then-coach Jeff Lebo insist on playing him at the two spot, Douglas just up and left, transferring to a school (FSU) that promised to play him at the one. Douglas may have gotten his wish, but the point guard gods didn’t necessarily get theirs; Douglas would average  exactly 2.9 assists per game in each of his last three seasons. Like, exactly. Weird, right?

TD clearly wants to be a point guard. Really bad. Which is cool – admirable, even. Here’s the thing though: I think I’d make a good President. I really do. Would I make a good President? No. No I would not. Luckily for TD – and possibly 320 million other Americans –  he’s much closer to actualizing his potential as a point guard than I am to legalizing marijuana, slashing the defense budget by 90 percent, or signing an executive order deeming “We Built This City” the new national anthem. Let alone doing all three of them.

Unfortunately, the lockout and surgery-recovery double whammy will doubtless impede what was supposed to be a crucial summer of development for Douglas, who turns 26 next March. By then, most point guards capable of making the leap from serviceable stopgap to reliable NBA starter – or, in the case of now-mentor Chauncey Billups, full-blown star – have either done so, or are in the noticeable process of doing so. Needless to say, if the 2011-12 NBA Season follows the previous lockout’s season-shortened script, few players (with the possible exception of rookies Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrelson, and second year men Landry Fields and Andy Rautins) will be the worse for it than Toney Douglas.

But the real concern has to be the shoulder. As many an athlete understand all too well, it’s the sort of thing which — without the proper treatment — can linger for a long, long time. Treatment being the operative word here: Thanks to the lockout (or, as I like to call it, the %$&*-out, due to the interlocutors’ seemingly preternatural urge to wave their %$&*s around instead of, you know, talking) Douglas will not have the luxury of the Knick medical staff and trainers, who’d typically be tasked with helping expedite the recovery process.

Now, clearly a dude making even low seven figures can afford his own doctors and physical therapists. But it’s not as easy as simply having your extra-organizational healer consult with the team staff as to the desired recovery regimen; “no contact”, it turns out, means no contact. Indeed, Douglas’ plight only throws into higher, uglier relief the scorched earth effects that a protracted labor dispute can impart — even on the seeming periphery of NBA life. For this and many other reasons (paranoiadelusions of grandeur, batshit craziness, etc.) let’s just hope that this week’s talks yield something in the way of progress. Otherwise, things could get very, very weird.

Cuz you know what happens if Toney can’t get a decent massage for his shoulder? So long, professional basketball. Hello, professional tumbleweed distribution.

And nobody wants that.


Report Card (5 point scale):

Offense: 2
Defense: 5
Teamwork: 3
Rootability: 4
Performance/Expectations: 3

Final Grade: B+

Similarity Scores:

0 Toney Douglas 2011 NYK 15.2 53.4 51.1 15.6 1.2 4.5 4.5 1.6 0.1 1.6
0.039 Trent Tucker 1984 NYK 13.6 51.8 50.7 14.1 1.3 3.8 4 1.8 0.2 1.6
0.065 C.J. Watson 2009 GSW 14.2 56.4 50 14 0.7 3.7 3.9 1.8 0.1 1.8
0.069 Jim Thomas 1985 IND 13 53.4 48.3 15.5 1.3 4.6 4.1 1.3 0.1 2.3
0.073 Kyle Macy 1982 PHO 15.7 57 53.5 14.7 1 3.3 4.9 1.8 0.1 1.6
0.077 Steve Alford 1989 TOT 11.9 52.2 48.8 14.5 0.4 2.9 3.7 1.8 0.1 1.8
0.091 Smush Parker 2006 LAL 13.4 54.8 52.4 12.2 0.5 3.5 3.9 1.8 0.2 1.9
0.091 Antonio Daniels 2000 SAS 15.2 54.1 50.6 12.7 0.5 2.6 5.3 1.7 0.2 1.7
0.092 Paul Graham 1992 ATL 14.7 52.3 48.8 16.6 1.5 4.8 3.7 2 0.4 1.9
0.093 Ronnie Price 2008 UTA 12.3 51.6 49.5 14 0.5 2.8 4.8 2 0.2 1.8
0.101 Craig Hodges 1985 MIL 11.8 55.2 52.3 12.6 1.1 2.7 5 1.4 0 1.9
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Jim Cavan

Beyond his KnickerBlogger roots, Jim's work has appeared at ESPN.com, Grantland, The Classical, and the New York Times. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, entitled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.

17 thoughts to “2011 Report Card: Toney Douglas”

  1. Please make a correction. Toney won the ACC (not SEC) Defensive Player of the Year while at FSU. He also led the league in scoring that year, but yet, somehow, didnt win the league MVP. Not that I’m bitter. Go Noles

  2. Nice analysis of the good and the bad that you get with TD, Jim. I actually think his D is a little overrated; I recall numerous instances last season of his man blowing right by him for a layup. And I also don’t recall too many comments during games of “Great pass by Douglas” Unfortunately, I’m not sure he’ll ever become even an average passer.

    But I also remember that HUGE 3 he hit in game 1 against Boston and thinking that he had big set of cojones to take that shot. Easy guy to root for, and not a bad piece if you limit him to 20-25 min. a game.

    Meanwhile, didn’t I hear that if we didn’t see significant progress in the labor talks by Labor Day, training camps and the preseason would likely be history?

  3. 2 on offense and 5 on defense is a bit extreme on both ends I think. More like a 3 on offense and 4 on defense. Also how can he not get a 5 for rootability!! TDDWTDD

  4. Oh God I just noticed the Knicks are up tomorrow for 5-on-5 on ESPN.com. Let the roasting and ripping begin.

  5. Personally I think TD’s going to have a breakout year. This is about the time most PGs make “the leap” and, assuming a recovery that’s on schedule, I just have a feeling working under Chauncey’s going to pay some dividends. Not as much as it might under Nash, but still…

    Even though Mike’s actually the one that generates the scores for each player (Sorry Mike!), I’ll do my best to defend the 2 and 5 for O & D, respectively:

    I think the 2 for offense is fair, insofar as he still has a LOOONG way to go before he becomes a truly reliable point — particularly for the offense we run (or used to run, anyway….). He’s a spark off the bench, no doubt, but he’s still what I’d consider to be below-average as far as what the position truly demands vis-a-vis efficiency, leadership, and especially consistency.

    As for the “5” for Defense, I think the number has to be considered more in the context of the team, which, let’s face it, is pretty piss poor in this department from top to bottom. Yes, he has a tendency to gamble and over-extend, but his energy and effort in this department are undeniable; all the tools are there for him to be a truly great defender.

    Again, the rootability thing is a misnomer, in a way. By virtue of being a Knick, you could argue that everyone deserves a 5/5. But other things also have to be taken into consideration; personality, work ethic, effort, etc. IMHO, the only thing keeping Toney from getting a 5/5 is intensity. When you watch him, he’s pretty much in third gear all the time, emotionally speaking.

    Anyway, I like the out-of-five rankings. It’s a nice way for a blog so committed to advanced stats to take a deep breath and be a little more subjective, and helps spark even more debate / conversation.

  6. I like TD a lot, and largely agree with d-mar @4. He reminds me somewhat of Charlie Ward, more in terms of demeanor and physique, but TD is a better shooter and not as good of a passer (which is saying something because Ward was no Nash either.) TD’s low TO #’s mean that he can probably take more risks than he does to get those assists. I agree with you, Jim, in that this could be a breakout year of sorts, but more importantly, if he can just play consistently up to his shooting numbers and add an assist or 2 per 36, that will be good enough for me.

    Considering all the hoopla in the media over not drafting Jennings, I don’t know if I trade TD for Jennings straight up right now.

  7. First off Jim, Bismarck, North Dakota is a perfectly fine locale. Bob Knight even took Jay Bilas there to golf this summer, which proves.. wait a second, I can’t keep this up, Fargo is a much better location.

    Second, I believe you’ll see my responses tomorrow on ESPN’s Friday 5 on 5, and maybe even get the chance to watch a video featuring this manly visage. Feel free to argue with me here.

    As Hemingway said in Midnight in Paris, Who wants to fight?!?

  8. @9

    Hell, I’m just glad we’re still invited to do these things! Seems like it’s been a while since we saw a KBlogger weigh in on any of the 5 on 5s. Does the Mother Ship really dislike us that much? Robert: Thoughts?

    Nicely done w/ the video. I would only temper the legitimate realism by saying that part of the reason Amare started to wear down was precisely because he didn’t have a reliable go-to guy to ease the scoring burden. With Melo out there, I don’t see Amare getting that level of burn… And especially if we end up with a abbreviated season.

    As for Chauncey, I just don’t see his injuries as the product of being “old.” They were freak injuries, pure and simple. A Dwight Howard knee to the quad probably would’ve severed any of our legs. And while age definitely protracted what 10 years ago would’ve been a much quicker recovery process, I still think he’s got a few productive years left in the tank.

  9. @jim I think longer recovery time every time chauncey is injured is reason to doubt that, over the course of a full season, we would finish in the top four of the east. But yes, amar’e should be fresher. The question is, how fresh can he be? dope fresh, hopefully.

    From Chris Sheridan’s new site: “They are a lot closer to a settlement than most people realize. I know this because I talk regularly with a bunch of important people who tell me important things.”

    Who will they hire to replace him, I wonder?

  10. I see the Knicks as in the East’s top 4 if everyone stays healthy, because I really don’t think Orlando is a very good team. Sure, Dwight Howard is awesome, but Melo, Amar’e and Billups are all considerably better than anyone else the Magic can run out there, and a massive proportion of the Magic’s cap space is eaten up by players who are straight up bad. Every time you’re tempted to complain that Melo or Amar’e are one-dimensional and overpaid, just repeat: Gilbert Arenas. Gilbert Arenas. Gilbert Arenas…

  11. Hi all – I’d LOVE to believe Chris Sheridan but this article has the distinct feel of “I have a new website and need to get a ton of pageviews to start it off right – so let’s write an article that is exactly what people are starving to hear”. Note he doesn’t actually cite anything new – he’s just writing out the optimistic side of anything. No sources. No nothing. Again, I’d LOVE to believe that he actually knows something, but this is the same guy whose sources led him to believe that LBJ was coming to the Knicks. And the same guy who actually took the time to sue Peter Vecsey of all people for libel. As if anyone actually cares what Vecsey says about anything at this point in his crashing/burning career.

    Anyway – a couple comments:
    – I’d give Toney a 3 on offense – he was exactly what we expected. Streaky shooter to be sure, below average distributor. But he took care of the ball (1.6 TO/36) and absolutely carried the offense at times.
    – I’d give him a 4 on defense – effort etc. is great but he often hung our notoriously crappy interior defense out to dry with his gambling.
    – I think Toney’s most likely comps in this league is Lindsey Hunter and Bobby Jackson. This is not a bad thing, considering he was a late 1st round pick we bought with Dolan Dollars.

    Lastly – re: the 5 on 5 – great job guys! The only thing I would say re: the Chris Paul thing is this: it seems quite likely to me that the owners will push for the end of sign-trades as we know them now. The point of the bird rights was for players to be incentivized to stay with their own teams, not so they could get Bird-level money and then get traded to the team of their choice a la Melo. So if that is the case, and CP3 wants to come to the Knicks, there will be no advantage to him in agreeing to sign an extension with a trade partner – no extra $ or years. No sign/trades means it’s much more likely players will just walk into FA. C’mon and walk over to New York CP3!

  12. While it is easy to say you do not see TD developing into a legit PG, I am struggling with your explanation.

    What pre-requisites make a good point guard in MD’s system? I do not remember very many pick and rolls with Amare and TD leading to amare dunks (like with Felton). Is it merely that he needs time to develop his P&R game?

    Given his general role of bench spark, it seems that would generally necessitate a shoot first mentality (remember the quality of the second unit he usually plays with). Is there anything someone can point to that suggests his passing numbers would not improve if he ran the point on a more regular basis.

  13. Yeah I kinda agree considering he averaged almost 7 assists per game when he started during the regular season when Billups was hurt.

    Of course I would like to see him become a better passing PG but off the bench I have no problem with him looking for his shot first for the most part especially when he is on fire like he was several times last season.

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