Houston Rockets: Recent Rise from Toney Douglas is Crucial for Playoff Run

By Michael Ma

Dec 19, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Toney Douglas (15) dribbles against the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter at the Toyota Center. The Rockets won 125-103. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe we’ve been a little too harsh on Houston Rocket’s backup point guard Toney Douglas, me included.  It sure looked like early in the season the Rockets would have a huge problem finding a suitable backup point guard as Douglas struggled mightily at first.  He started the season on a 1-14 shooting slump, while being quite ineffective as an offensive initiator.  But what turned out as a possible weakness has proved to be a great solution for the Rockets.

On the season, Douglas is now averaging 8.7 points off the bench, while leading the team in three-point percentage at 42% and free throw percentage at 91%.  Douglas also has been playing great defensively, so great that there was a stretch of games in late November and early December where he was finishing games in the 4th quarter while Jeremy Lin was on the bench.

After a great senior season at Florida State where he was an All-ACC first teamer, Douglas was drafted in the first-round by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009, before being traded to the New York Knicks on draft day. Douglas spent his first 3 seasons of his career in New York before being traded to the Rockets, as part of the Marcus Camby trade this past summer.  His career with the Knicks was a true roller-coaster ride, as he shot close to 43% after his first 2 seasons, including averaging a career high 10.6 points a game in 2010-2011.  He began last season as the starting point guard for the Knicks, but struggled mightily before the Knicks gave Lin a chance, and the rest was history.  Douglas had shot a dismal 32% from the field last year, including 23% from behind the arc, and it looked like a change of scenery was not going to solve his shooting woes early on.

Douglas found his mark on November 10th in a blow-out victory against the Detroit Pistons, where he scored 11 points off the bench.  Since then, Douglas has scored in double-digits in 14 of 25 games.

In the month of December alone, Douglas is averaging 11.6 points, shooting 43% from the field, and 47% from three.  What’s more important is that he is playing around 25 minutes per game, which can be huge in resting starters Lin and James Harden, as the Rocket’s pace may cause some fatigue issues later on in the season.  Douglas has also shown that both he and Lin can play together effectively, without the offense missing a beat.

The play of Douglas leaves coach Kevin McHale many options for the rest of the season, he can play efficient minutes spelling Lin or Harden, while also being a great option defensively against opposing point guards in the late minutes of games.  What seemed like a throw-in for the Rockets in an off-season trade can be a good weapon for a team that will be competing for a playoff spot.