New York Knicks: Pressure on Toney Douglas in Past Has Resulted in Poor Play

Matt Dienstag@MEDdaWorldStagContributor IIIApril 3, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 28:  Toney Douglas #23 of the New York Knicks in action against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on December 28, 2011 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Fourth quarter in Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

Then-New York Knicks starting point guard Chauncey Billups goes down with a knee injury that would sideline him the rest of the postseason.

"Toney, you're in."

Two weeks before Christmas Day 2011.

Billups is released, a casualty of the new amnesty clause packaged in the collective bargaining agreement, and would leave the Knicks roster without a legitimate point guard.

"Toney, get in there!"

Both instances resulted in failure for the Knicks, in large part due to his play, and Toney Douglas was banished to the bench with the emergence of Jeremy Lin.

Sure, both these situations put Douglas in a much larger role than the Knicks are asking him to be in now, but with Lin out for the foreseeable future isn't there a sizable amount of pressure on Douglas to help keep this team afloat?

Douglas has had some flashes of excellence in his tenure with the Knicks, but he seems to struggle when the pressure is on.

With the only trustworthy point guard left being a banged-up Baron Davis, the Knicks will have to rely on Douglas to be able to spell the veteran point guard and the oft-injured rookie Iman Shumpert.

The Knicks desperately need Davis and Shumpert to stay healthy now.
The Knicks desperately need Davis and Shumpert to stay healthy now.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

And we've seen the way Douglas performed in the past when the Knicks have needed him most.

In last year's playoffs, Douglas struggled to orchestrate the offense when Billups went down, and the Knicks went on to lose in four games to the Boston Celtics in Round 1. While Douglas shot the ball well, he struggled to fulfill the responsibilities of a point guard.

When Billups was cut to allow the Knicks to sign Tyson Chandler, Douglas failed miserably in taking over the starting point guard duties and was eventually sent to the doghouse by Mike D'Antoni.

We haven't really seen him since.

The good thing for Douglas here is that he doesn't have to be the starting point guard. Davis and Shumpert both run the offense way better than Douglas ever could, but both players need rest. The Knicks can't afford to lose another guard, Douglas needs to be able to contribute and spell these guys to keep them from getting hurt.

If Douglas continues to shoot bricks and be the turnover-prone, indecisive guard that we last saw him as, it's going to make the Knicks' chances of making the playoffs that much slimmer.

The Knicks have already lost two of their best playmakers in Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin to injuries. They need solid contributions from the starters but especially the bench.

Again, the injury bug has bitten the Knicks hard this season, and they can't afford to lose another key player.

Douglas has shown his potential before. He's a great spot-up shooter and when he's hot he consistently strokes the long ball. However, it hasn't been like that for a while now, and his recent indecisiveness has left many people questioning his basketball IQ.

Douglas can still be effective off the bench—he just desperately needs something to go in to get his confidence back. Ten to 15 minutes a night is all he needs to contribute. Douglas is an above-average defender, and if he can find his stroke he'll be effective on both sides of the ball and will force Mike Woodson to keep him in the game over Mike Bibby.

This could be Douglas' last chance with the Knicks. If he doesn't perform well, the Knicks may send him packing. Third time's the charm.