Find out how Toney Douglas has made an immediate impact with his defensive prowess and veteran leadership.
Defense has been a calling card for Kings guard Toney Douglas since he first stepped foot on a basketball court.
“That’s what I do,” says Douglas simply. “I pressure the ball (and try to) not make the other team’s offense go so (easily). I don’t think it shows up on the stat sheet, but it’s something really (important) and helps you win games, and I take pride in it.”
No. 0 – who patterned his game after Hall of Famer Joe Dumars – not only led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring in 2008-09, averaging 21.5 points per game for Florida State, but also earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
“At the end of the day, there are so many guards in college and in this league who can score the ball, but … there aren’t too many guys who can score and play just as good defense,” he says. “I feel like my niche in the NBA … is to be able to guard people. You need guys who can contain Tony Parker or Deron Williams or Chris Paul – whoever it is – so that’s what I thrive on.”
Against the Warriors on March 7, the 6-foot-2 guard’s constant pressure limited the NBA’s eighth-leading scorer, Stephen Curry, to 13 points on 3 of 11 shooting from the field.
“(My mindset is) don’t let him feel comfortable, be physical with him and take on the challenge,” says Douglas. “I like doing it because I know my capabilities. I’m a big, strong guard and I’m just as athletic, just as quick.”
Over his last three outings, Sacramento’s midseason acquisition has averaged 13.3 points, three assists and two steals per contest, while coming up with numerous key plays. Against the Clippers on Monday, Douglas played a pivotal role in a Kings comeback victory, notching 17 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter – knocking down three clutch three-pointers – while helping to limit perennial All-Star Chris Paul to just two of 10 from the field.
“Toney Douglas was incredible (on Monday),” said DeMarcus Cousins postgame. “(He’s) a seasoned point guard, he knows how to run a team, and that’s what he did. His defense on Chris Paul was incredible.”
Kings Head Coach Keith Smart has oftentimes turned to the veteran guard in crunch time situations due to the Florida native’s high basketball IQ and expertise.
“Putting pressure on the basketball is a big plus on your basketball team – there are only a few guys who know how to do it,” says Smart.
“He works (opposing teams) deep into the shot-clock and doesn’t allow their guards to get to easy operating areas. You can see the difference.”
Smart has also been impressed with how quickly Douglas – as well as newcomers Patrick Patterson and Cole Aldrich – has picked up offensive and defensive schemes since arriving from Houston in February.
“I gave those guys a little mini version of a playbook in New Orleans (on Feb. 24) and they deciphered through it,” says the Kings leader. “The other night, Golden State went into a zone, and I instinctively called a play we run against a zone. Both (Douglas) and Patterson jumped right into their spots.”
Douglas explains he incessantly observes and studies the game, crediting his time with the veteran N.Y. Knicks for his strong work ethic and leadership qualities.
“I learned a lot from Chauncey Billups – he helped me out a lot when he was there – and then when he was hurt, I ended up starting,” says the Kings guard. “Playing with (Carmelo Anthony) and (Amar’e) Stoudemire (when I was) starting my second year really helped me, too.”
Isaiah Thomas notes the addition of No. 0 has already begun to help the Kings backcourt.
“He’s a good point guard – a guy who’s vocal, and since the day he (arrived), he’s asking questions and helping me out every now and then,” says No. 22. “You always want a good guard to make you better each and every day. He’s kind of like me – we like to get out and pressure and make it tough for guys, because we’re not the biggest guards out there.”
Veteran John Salmons, meanwhile, values the Florida State product’s valuable impact on both ends of the court.
“He’s a guy who’s hard on the ball, picks up full-court (and) pressures the (opposing) point guard all night,” says Salmons. “He’s going to get deflections and steals. He can score the ball, as well. He can hit the three, he runs the team and he brings energy off the bench.”
In eight games since arriving in Sacramento, Douglas has recorded a +32 plus/minus rating – holding his counterparts to 33 percent shooting from the field, while tallying 10 steals, according to NBA.com/Stats.
With a savvy approach to his craft, No. 0 is proving to be a difference-maker for the Kings.