This fall, Toney Douglas will be entering his fifth year in the league with his fourth team. The former Florida State Seminole split last season with the Rockets and Kings after being dealt by the Knicks, with whom he spent his first three years after being acquired from the Lakers in a draft day trade. After steadily improving throughout his first two years in New York, his numbers dipped in his third year. Douglas’ decline couldn’t have come at a worse time.
A player’s third season is generally looked at as a make-or-break year. Most rookie deals last three years, and this is a player’s last chance to prove their worth to the team that drafted them. Though he had been solid at times in his first two campaigns, Douglas hadn’t been consistent enough to give the Knicks brass the confidence to anoint him as Chauncey Billups’ successor. Their offseason moves proved as much, as they brought in veterans Baron Davis and Mike Bibby, but Davis would be unavailable for the start of the season while recovering from a herniated disk in his back.
In Davis’ absence, Bibby proved to be ineffective, barely resembling the player he was in Atlanta, let alone the All-Star he was in Sacramento. With the Knicks thin at guard, it was Douglas’ job to lose. After all, their only other option was a waiver-wire pickup named Jeremy Lin. Long story short, Douglas wasn’t much better than Bibby, was replaced by Lin in a desperation move by Mike D’Antoni, and the phenomenon known as “Linsanity” took the world by storm. Douglas rarely took the court after that, playing over 20 minutes just twice after Lin’s rise to stardom.
Last season provided a fresh start for Douglas, and he showed himself to be a solid backup for, ironically, Lin in Houston and Isaiah Thomas in Sacramento. While his court vision isn’t on par with that of his predecessor Jarrett Jack, Douglas has shown he isn’t afraid to attack the basket and get to the foul line, which is one thing he and Jack have in common. He’s also got range out to the 3-point line and can provide some quick offense when needed, but what will really win him minutes is his quickness and defensive prowess (16 games with 2+ steals last season.) As we all know, defense is not one of Stephen Curry’s strengths, so any contributions Douglas can bring on that end would be welcomed. For the better part of two decades, the Warriors have been known as purely an offensive team, but with young talent like Douglas, Harrison Barnes, Kent Bazemore and Draymond Green on the roster, the tide may soon be turning in the Bay.
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