this is a discussion within the Pelicans Community Forum; Toney Douglas is the latest point guard to hop aboard what&rsquo;s become a carousel in the New Orleans Pelicans backcourt. Entering the year, there was never a true backup to Jrue Holiday. Austin Rivers couldn't handle the role and rookie ...
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|02-05-2015, 08:30 PM||#1|
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Toney Douglas Is Latest Answer to New Orleans Pelicans' Backup PG Question
Toney Douglas is the latest point guard to hop aboard what’s become a carousel in the New Orleans Pelicans backcourt.
Entering the year, there was never a true backup to Jrue Holiday. Austin Rivers couldn't handle the role and rookie Russ Smith was too raw; on Jan. 10, both were traded, to Boston and Memphis, respectively, for forward Quincy Pondexter and a future second-round pick.
And so the Pelicans have been forced to look for outside point guard help.
In December, Gal Mekel was the first floor general to land in New Orleans, but the team let him go after his 10-day contract expired. Head coach Monty Williams told Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune that the decision was based more on finances than basketball, leaving the door open for a return.
Next up was 23-year-old Nate Wolters, who was brought in on Jan. 14—the same day that Holiday was ruled out for 2-4 weeks with a stress reaction in his right lower leg. Wolters held his own but played sporadically. He received two 10-day contracts, the league maximum, but the Pels opted not to sign him for the rest of the season.
The 28-year-old Douglas could be looking at a similar fate. With Holiday due back after the All-Star break, and Tyreke Evans doing an excellent job of running the show, Williams explained that the team’s new addition is there for insurance purposes.
“We just needed to have some insurance with Jrue not being able to play just yet,” Williams said, per Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com. “You never know when you may need another body, so we’re going to take a look at Toney."
Mekel and Wolters were relatively quiet on the stat sheets during their respective runs with the Pelicans. In 14 combined games, the duo totaled just 23 points and 24 assists, per-game averages of 1.6 and 1.7 in each respective category.
Douglas is no Magic Johnson, but he's a legitimate backup capable of helping an NBA team. The question is this, though: How long will he stay in New Orleans?
What Douglas Brings
Douglas, a five-year NBA veteran, has playoff experience with the New York Knicks and Miami Heat. He’s also suited up for the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings.
This season, with minimal NBA interest for his services, the former first-round pick opted to play in the Chinese Basketball Association. Douglas played 34 games for the Jiangsu Dragons and averaged 24.7 points per game on 48.1 percent, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
The Dragons didn’t make the postseason, so Douglas’ run with them ended on Feb. 1.
After hitting 35.3 percent of his long-range attempts in the NBA, he shot 39 percent in China. Douglas has never proved to be the most accurate shooter, but he’s not afraid to fire until he gets hot.
On March 17, 2011, Douglas drilled nine of his 12 three-point attempts, lifting the Knicks over the Memphis Grizzlies with 29 points. Again, that was four years ago.
But since then, he’s put together 19 games of 15-plus points—not bad for a backup journeyman.
The Pelicans currently rank 24th in converted threes per game and 19th in percentage. Here’s what Michael Pellissier of Bourbon Street Shots had to say about New Orleans’ overdependence on Ryan Anderson from distance:
It’s quite simple – Ryan Anderson is such a large part of our [three-point] coalition that teams can simply pack the paint (because they aren’t scared of our other shooters) and either have one player stick with Ryno or perform wild closeouts once the ball gets kicked out to him…Right now, aside from Gordon, we don’t have other reliable shooters. It’s why our offense falls apart versus great defenses and it’s why it will continue to fall apart until we find shooters to accompany our other players in the lineup.Douglas won’t make the Pelicans a top-five threat, but he could definitely bring some life to one of the team’s weaker spots.
Another area that Douglas could bolster is on the defensive end. Holiday is one the league’s finest defensive point guards, so his absence has created a problem.
On Feb. 4, Russell Westbrook absolutely torched the Pelicans for a career-high 45 points on 18-of-31 shooting. No one could stop him. Evans, Eric Gordon and even Quincy Pondexter took turns trying to slow him down, but to no avail.
The 6’2” Douglas wouldn’t have locked down one the most dominant players in the game, but he would have provided a little resistance.
"I feel like I can guard anybody on the floor, that's my mentality," Douglas said last February during his most recent NBA stint with the Miami Heat, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I show it in practice every day, make Mario [Chalmers] and them better. I put pressure on the ball...I did the same thing with Steph [Curry], pick up fullcourt, make sure nothing is easy."
Douglas’ opportunities to make an impact will be few. His 10-day contract began on Feb. 3, which means that only four games are left before the league takes a cumulative exhale at the All-Star break.
Unless he’s given another 10 days—which is likely if Holiday’s recovery is delayed in any way—Douglas will have a hard time earning a yearlong stay.
Will Douglas Get a Shot?
Evans has been superb in Holiday’s absence, so clearly Williams isn’t going to just heave Douglas into the starting rotation.
Evans has averaged 15.3 points and 9.5 assists in his past six games as the starting PG. But Evans isn’t Douglas’ competition for minutes—Jimmer Fredette is.
When the Pelicans let Wolters walk, there was speculation that Fredette was in for a playing-time boost.
In New Orleans’ upset over the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 2, Jimmer swooshed two triples and looked extremely comfortable at the 1. He finished with 10 points, three assists, two boards and two blocks in 20 minutes of what was one the Pels’ biggest games of the year.
“Like I always say, you've got to be ready when your name is called,” Fredette said, per John Reid of NOLA.com. “The last couple of games I've been able to get in there a little bit and be able to contribute and just be aggressive. I just want to go out there and help the team as much as I can.”
If Fredette continues to thrive, it's possible that Douglas will ride the bench—and then ride off into the sunset.
The team is playing extremely well, too, even with its starting point guard sidelined. New Orleans has won six of its past eight, so Williams won't be looking to make any drastic rotation changes any time soon.
But then again, the Pels do have a few roster spots open. What’s the harm in keeping Douglas the rest of the year?
If anything happens to Holiday, Evans, Fredette or Gordon, the team can breathe easy knowing there is a legitimate backup present.
Plus, Fredette has been far from consistent. If he was a steady force in the backcourt all along, Mekel, Wolters and now Douglas wouldn't have been needed anyway.
Douglas brings experience, depth, three-point shooting and defense.
And in the midst of a battle for the eighth playoff spot in a loaded, point guard-driven Western Conference, the Pelicans should be looking to add all the help they can get.
All stats are accurate courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and RealGM as of Feb. 5.
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