Season in Review 2015-16: Toney Douglas
Pelicans.com continues its look back at the 2015-16 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:
During his brief stint with New Orleans early in the season, Nate Robinson referred to himself as “an emergency brake” that NBA teams can use when they’re in a pinch roster-wise. Robinson’s unique description actually may be even more fitting as it applies to fellow point guard Toney Douglas and the New Orleans Pelicans. On three separate occasions over the past 14 months, the Pelicans have signed the veteran, in order to create much-needed backcourt depth.
Douglas did not enter October ’15 training camp with New Orleans, but was waived by Indiana just before the regular season began. He re-joined the already-injury-depleted Pelicans on Oct. 30, then poured in 17 points the next night against Golden State. That performance was a sign of things to come for the Florida State product’s season overall – he wasn’t expected to log major minutes, but ended up playing far more than he has in recent years and was quite productive.
Fast forward to the end of ’15-16, and Douglas was in the New Orleans starting lineup for 18 of the final 19 games, delivering some of the best performances of his seven-year NBA career. The Georgia native reached double digits in scoring 15 times over that 18-start span, including tallying 23, 21 and 22 points in the final three games vs. Phoenix, Chicago and Minnesota, respectively. It was the first time Douglas had compiled three consecutive games of 20-plus points in the NBA.
Unlike the previous season – when Douglas played in several critical wins, leading to a Pelicans playoff berth – New Orleans couldn’t overcome its injury woes in ’15-16. However, the Pelicans were generally competitive down the stretch, including a 4-3 span with Douglas starting.
“It’s difficult any time you have eight or nine players injured,” Douglas said. “You want to get into a rhythm with the starting five, the role players and the bench. (But) at the end of the day, it’s part of the game. Things happen and you’ve got to adjust. I think we did a good job adjusting, even though we had a lot of adversity this year. Hopefully next year we don’t have these type of injuries again. Some of the stuff just happens on the floor. You can’t control it sometimes.”
Despite being an in-season pickup, Douglas nearly played as many minutes (1,262) as he has in a season since 2012-13, when he logged 1,289 split between Houston and Sacramento. “I always expect to play,” Douglas said, when asked specifically about his increase in role. “No matter what. I’m a competitor. Being a pro, if you don’t play, you still keep your body in shape and stay working. It’s a long season – you’ve just got to seize every opportunity, every moment.”
For the third time in the past four summers, Douglas will be a free agent. He is open to returning to New Orleans, one of the six NBA teams he’s played for since debuting as a New York lottery pick in ‘09.
“I have no problem being back here. I feel like I can contribute to this team,” he said. “On the offensive and defensive end, I feel I can make a difference. That’s not my call, though – I’m the player. We’ll see where that goes. I like it here with the coaches and I’m familiar with the players and their games.”
TOP THREE TONEY DOUGLAS GAMES OF 2015-16
#3, Nov. 10: New Orleans 120, Dallas 105
Douglas figured prominently in the Pelicans’ first win after an 0-6 start, going 5/7 from three-point range, part of a 17-point night off the bench. NOLA’s reserves combined for a whopping 79 points.
#2, March 31: New Orleans 101, Denver 95
A 20-point, 10-assist game represented the first double-double for Douglas since March 18, 2011, when he was a second-year guard with New York. The Pelicans were plus-13 with Douglas on the floor.
#1, March 20: New Orleans 109, L.A. Clippers 105
One of the best all-around games of Douglas’ career, he delivered 15 points, seven rebounds and nine assists (his career high in dimes is 11), sparking the Pelicans to victory. New Orleans only had nine healthy players available.
BEHIND THE NUMBERS
39.9: Career-high three-point percentage for Douglas, ranking second among Pelicans who spent the majority of the season on the roster.
84.8: Shooting percentage from the foul line for Douglas, an excellent free-throw shooter. He’s at 82.4 percent over his seven-year NBA career.
18: Starts for Douglas in 2015-16, a new career high. His previous most was 17 with Miami in 2013-14; that Heat team reached the NBA Finals, losing to San Antonio.