How Toney Douglas Can Have Success as Starting Point Guard for New York Knicks

Sunil RamCorrespondent IIDecember 21, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 07:  Toney Douglas #23 of the New York Knicks during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 7, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When Chauncey Billups was officially amnestied by the New York Knicks to make room for Tyson Chandler, the biggest question in the Big Apple was what the team would do about their point guard situation.

The Knicks recently signed veteran Baron Davis, but he’ll be sidelined with back problems for at least a few weeks.

As it stands now, Toney Douglas will be the starter on Opening Day.

Although his style of play is more suited for the shooting guard position, Douglas has spent time playing the point during his first two seasons. At 25 years old, he’s still young and can become more of a pass-first player.

Early on in Chauncey Billups career, he was written off as a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. Critics doubted he would turn into a ‘real’ point man that could create baskets by doing more than just shooting.

We all know how wrong those sentiments about the 2004 Finals MVP ended up being.

By no means does that mean Douglas is destined to have a career like Billups. It’s just a reminder that, if they work hard, players can always change and expand their skill set.

As the point man, Douglas must cut down the number of possessions in which he just dribbles around and jacks up a three. Fortunately for Knicks fans, his decision-making should improve as he spends more time at the position.

One area where Douglas will need to make big strides is in effectively running the pick and roll. In the Knicks first preseason game, he struggled making good use of screens as well as getting the defense to collapse in on him, which opens up outside shooters.

The Knicks have some excellent screeners in Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, which will certainly help the young guard improve that aspect of his game.

Where Douglas doesn’t need to make major improvements in is his on-ball defense. Among players that logged over 1,500 minutes for the Knicks last season, Douglas had the best defensive rating out of anyone.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement. Douglas must improve his defensive footwork if he hopes to contain the league’s elite point guards. 

What will be a huge boost to Douglas’s success is the presence of Carmelo Anthony, and not just for the obvious reason of having one of the NBA’s best offensive players as a teammate.

The Knicks can run their offense through Anthony for long stretches of the game, taking pressure off of Douglas. The superstar forward has improved his ability to run pick and rolls, doing it very well in the Knicks first preseason game.

When Anthony is in point forward mode, Douglas can focus on spacing the floor with his shooting as well as making opponents pay for double-teaming either of the Knicks’ two superstars.

With expectations for the Knicks at their highest level in over a decade, Toney Douglas will certainly have his work cut out for him. If his teammates, coaches and especially the fans are patient and not too quick to give up on him, Douglas could serve as a solid point guard for this season and beyond.