Toney Douglas' Role as Backup Point Guard in Houston Is Running Out

James ChangCorrespondent INovember 9, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 09:  (L) Kemba Walker #1 of the Charlotte Bobcats is challenged by (R) Toney Douglas #23 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on January 9, 2012 in New York City. 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 Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

When Chauncey Billups and Toney Douglas were teammates in New York, Billups was injured and out several times.  Douglas was called upon to keep the Knicks boat afloat.  He did a decent enough job that the Knicks amnestied Billups to give Douglas the starting role.

Toney had a good start with the Knicks at the beginning of last year's shortened season, putting up 19 points in the opener against Boston and 17 points and eight rebounds six days later against the Kings; after that, he struggled and was benched by Mike D'Antoni as a result.

When the Knicks traded for Douglas after he was picked 29th overall in the 2009 draft, Douglas was a great spot-up shooter, and someone who made defenses pay with the long ball.  It's been a while since Toney has been relied upon for these skills.

The Knicks would eventually send Douglas to the Houston Rockets along with Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan and second round picks for Marcus Camby.  The Knicks and their fans seemed giddy to be rid of Douglas and his lingering shoulder problems.

In a short four months, both Harrellson and Jordan are gone.  Douglas remains as a backup point guard, but his woes continue in Houston.  From failing to recognize open teammates and not having a good sense of court awareness at all, his role as a ball distributor seems in question.  His shooting, which was his strength in his first two years, has been poor since his last year with the Knicks.

In four games as the backup point guard in Houston, Douglas has made only two shots and is shooting a dismal 11%. 

The real disappointment is that the Toney Douglas who is with Houston now is struggling just as he did  last year with the Knicks.  He's still having trouble with the same missed screen passes, and hurried shots with the shot clock winding down, either for himself or the perimeter shooter he just passed to.

Imagine if someone was seriously injured in a car accident.  He may get on the road again, but the ease of which he drives and his comfort is no longer there.  This appears to be the case with Douglas and his shoulder injury.

Even when he struggled with the Knicks during games, Douglas would make those same shots and passes in practice.  But as soon as the game started, his confidence disappeared.  What's left was someone who knew how to play the game well, but can't seem to execute, and his indecisiveness often led to missed plays and turnovers.

Players at this level deserve chances when they falter.  However, Douglas has struggled for several seasons now.  The prospect of him recovering his court abilities seem grim. 

Even with his struggles, Douglas is an above-average defender; however, Houston needs a solid backup distributor more than they need a good on-ball defender.  Maybe it's time to give Scott Machado some court time.