Chris Douglas-Roberts Must Use D-League to Revive Failing NBA Career

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2012

Oct. 10, 2012; Ontario, CA, USA;  Portland Trail Blazers forward Jared Jeffries (1) defends Los Angeles Lakers forward Chris Douglas-Roberts (9) in the second half of the game at the Citizens Business Bank Arena. Portland won 93-75.  Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Sometimes, things fall apart. After being cut by the Los Angeles Lakers, Chris Douglas-Roberts must find away to ensure his career isn't one of those "things."

Douglas-Roberts was selected 40th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by the then-New Jersey Nets. After spending two seasons with them, he moved on to spend a year with the Milwaukee Bucks.

He appeared in 155 games over that three-year span, posting averages of 7.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per contest. He ultimately set up shop with Virtus Bologna of the Italian league in 2011-12.

But opportunity came knocking at his door again when he earned a preseason roster spot with the Lakers. In four contests for Los Angeles, Douglas-Roberts averaged four points and under one rebound and assist per game while shooting 45.5 percent from the field.

That simply wasn't enough to compel the Lakers—who, according to Mike Trudell of, were high on Douglas-Roberts—to offer him a roster spot as the team waived him along with center Greg Somogyi:

LAL really liked CDR. Cuts are tough. RT @lakers: OFFICIAL: Lakers waive Chris Douglas-Roberts & Greg Somogyi.

— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 22, 2012

And now, after four seasons of generating underwhelming results, Douglas-Roberts could be resigned to giving up and taking his talents permanently overseas.

But that would be a mistake.

Once you watch some film of the 6'7" swingman, it becomes apparent that he's a crafty scorer with a great handle who doesn't receive enough credit on defense. That said, you cannot build an NBA career on potential alone, you have to yield results.

Douglas-Roberts began to do that in New Jersey, averaging 10.1 points in 21 minutes over the final 15 games of the 2008-09 season.

But he couldn't ride that momentum.

Over the following two seasons with the Nets and Bucks, Douglas-Roberts' playing time increased, but his scoring output and efficiency from the field diminished considerably.

His inability to crash the boards harder for a player of his size was also a red flag.

Which is why he found himself overseas last season. And it's also why he must find himself in the NBA's Developmental League to start this season.

In the D-League—which will hold its draft on November 2nd—Douglas Roberts will be given the playing time and experience he needs to hone his craft and correct his weaknesses. It is there that he will be given the time to—pardon the cliché—develop, the time to improve his outside shot (he is shooting just 28.6 percent from beyond the arc for his career) and rebounding deficiencies (just 2.1 per contest for his career).

Most importantly, though, it is there he will receive the best possible opportunity to resurrect what is rapidly becoming a dying career. Because while the D-League often goes overlooked, it can be effective. 

Just ask the 60 players who received a call-up to the NBA in 2011-12.

Better yet, why not ask Matt Barnes, Will Bynum and Marcin Gortat, three of the most successful D-League-to-NBA stories? Or why not ask Jeremy Lin, the most widely publicized D-League story of all?

No, these players may not be All-Stars, but they have become fixtures at the NBA level because the D-League provided them with an extensive opportunity to prove themselves. While the preseason can be certain players' ticket into the league, an eight-game span is not nearly long enough for certain players to prove their mettle.

Maybe Douglas-Roberts is one of those athletes, the kind that needed more than an abbreviated opportunity to tap into his full-potential as a player.

Or maybe not, but he should take a stab at the D-Leauge to find out. 

If he exhibits a willingness to work on his jump shot mechanics and embrace the art of crashing the glass, there's no reason he too cannot get that call-up, the one that jump-starts his career.

Let's not forget this is an athlete who has already proved he can score at a professional level. He just needs to develop some sort of consistency and expand his positional horizons.

It doesn't matter that he was selected in the second-round, where expectations go to die. He was widely considered a first-round prospect for his scoring prowess, but his under-developed abilities in other facets of the game relegated him to the bottom half of his class.

Which means the potential, the hope for him to develop into an everyday player is still alive and well. And it's the mission of the D-League to actualize that potential.

Why would he forego the opportunity to be the next success story? Why should he pass up the opportunity to inject some life, some hope into his dismal career? Why should he settle for returning overseas where he's accepted as he is, when he can demand more of himself in the D-League?

He can't, he shouldn't, and if he's smart, he won't.



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