Toney Douglas and the NBA Draft: Can Toney Jump into the First Round?

Clearly, it has been relatively quiet in the world of FSU basketball and I have been swamped at work, which has made for little noise on Tomahawk Nation from TC and for that I apologize.

On Tuesday night, the NBA held it's annual draft lottery and there has been the typical off season bump in college basketball discussion...

Prior to the draft lottery, Toney Douglas was getting little to no love from the "experts."

ATLANTA - MARCH 13:  Toney Douglas #23 of the Florida State Seminoles controls the ball against Maurice

 

Photo from here.

However, on Wednesday morning I found this and was delighted...

Picture_1_medium

From espn.com

 

Not only was I excited that Toney was getting mentioned in the first round but it was suggested that my Chicago Bulls would be the ones to pick him up. Chad Ford also said that DeJuan Blair would drop to 16 for the Bulls as well. After I returned to reality, I decided to take a look at Toney's career and how he compares to the other guards in this years draft.

Outside of ACC country, Toney Douglas is not a household name and until recently he wasn't getting significant recognition in pre-draft discussions and mock draft boards. However, the morning after the NBA Draft Lottery, Chad Ford from ESPN.com predicted Toney to be drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the 26th pick in the first round. I'm sure this raised a few eyebrows that were associated with a "Who?" comment.

Toney, originally a member of the 2004 recruiting class, was a Rivals.com and Scout.com 4-Star recruit out of Jonesboro High School in Jonesboro, Georgia. He was the 66th ranked player overall and the 14th shooting guard overall by Rivals.com and the 20th Point guard overall by Scout.com. He played for the Atlanta Prep Stars AAU team. During his junior year of high school, he scored 29.3 points per game with 7.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists. He signed with Auburn in October of his senior year. During his senior year, he averaged 34 points per game, 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He had 6 triple-doubles and shot 52% from the 3-point line during that year. Toney's high school resume was impressive. He was named to 1st team All State honors from the Atlanta Journal Constitution from 2002-2004. He was the AJC Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004. He led his team back to back state post-season play, including the State Championship game in 2002. According to Rivals.com, Toney only received offers from Clemson and Auburn. Keep in mind, however,  that the 2004 recruiting class included Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson, Rudy Gay, Glenn Davis, Josh Smith and LaMarcus Aldridge, to name a few.

 

Auburn Tigers v Vanderbilt Commodores

Photo from here.

Despite a short stint at Auburn, Toney made an impact. During his only season with the Tigers, he started all 31 games and averaged 16.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals. Toney's success earned him a spot on the Freshman All-American Third Team and All-SEC Third Team. He scored the team's season high with 38 points against Nicholls State. Toney was fourth in scoring in the conference that year and the nation's second highest scoring freshman. Looking to make a quick move to the next level, Toney tried his luck in the NBA draft after his freshman year. However, he withdrew before the draft occurred. Upset with Toney's actions and decision, Aubrun released Toney. Leonard Hamilton, Florida State's Basketball Coach, recognized Toney's potential and started recruiting him heavily. Hamilton is known for identifying raw talent and recruiting better talent than expected at what is not currently considered an elite basketball school in the ACC.

Leonard Hamilton had this to say of his new recruit: "We are very excited to have a player with Toney's talent in our program. He is a player with proven scoring abilities and an unselfish spirit who enjoys getting his teammates involved in running the offense. On top of that, he quickly showed our staff and players that he has great character and will fit into our program nicely."

After sitting out the 2005-2006 season, Toney's career developed nicely in his three years with the Semnioles. His accolades with the Seminoles are many and I will only list a few of them here. As a senior, Toney was named to the AP and Sporting News All-America 3rd Teams, he was First Team All-ACC, he was the ACC Defensive player of the year and runner up for the ACC Player of the Year. He was a Bob Cousy Award Finalist. He was the 2008 Global Sports Classic Tournament MVP.  During his Junior year, he was named to All-ACC Third Team and was on the All-ACC Defensive team. He averaged 23 points per game in ACC play in the 2008-2009 season. He finished his career as a 37.6% 3-point shooter and an 80.6% FT shooter.

Taking a closer look at how Toney's career has developed should give you some sense of what kind of player he is and what he will be able to do in the NBA.

 

 

 

With the exception of his first year at FSU, Toney essentially played every minute of every game in his college career, taking limited breaks. He is an absolute warrior and has the toughness to endure though fatigue and wear and tear of playing a lot of minutes on a regular basis. This bodes well with Toney as he looks toward the NBA. So often you hear the NBA analysts talking about how rookies tend to slump or wear down late in the season as they are not used to playing so many games and so many minutes. Toney has proved that he can endure lots of minutes.

 

 

He also had a huge jump in his offensive rating this year, which is likely due to our entire offense being based on Toney. This is a really interesting chart as you can see that his points and eFG% did not change that much, despite the fact that his shot percentage increase by 8% this year compared to his previous averages. 

The other skill that Toney possess is his consistency from the FT line. He makes opponents pay for putting him on the line. He is one of the best FT shooters in FSU history.

 

 

 

The other feature that sets Toney apart is his defensive ability and this will be his key to success in the NBA. For his entire career, he faced some of the best guards in the country night in and night out. For the past two years, he has been named ACC Defensive Team and was the ACC Defensive Player of the year in 2009. He was also named to the Fox Sports All-American Defensive team. This cannot be stressed enough, Toney loves to play defense. He puts as much, if not more, energy into his defense as his offense. He is accustomed to playing man to man defense and enjoys it: "The main reason I think I play good defense is because in this league, there's a lot of good guards. If you don't play good defense, you get exposed real quick. It's a pride thing."

After a battling with Duke this season, Coach Mike Krzyzewski had this to say about Toney: "He's as good as there is in college."  He even labeled Toney as his favorite non-Duke player and would love to have him on his team, quite a complement from a Hall of Fame coach who is accustomed to having some of the best talent in the country on his team. 

NBA teams that are drafting late in the first round are not looking for players to take over a team and lead them to a championship. They are looking for the key role-players, the kids to develop behind their superstars. They are not looking for, nor expecting to find, a Derick Rose, Blake Griffin or Michael Beasley.

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 04:  Toney Douglas #23 of the Florida State Seminoles shoots the ball over Greg Paulus #3 of the Duke Blue Devils on Febraury 4, 2007 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

 

Photo from here.

Toney will contribute at the NBA level. It is exciting to see that he is finally getting national press as the draft approaches. Toney has made a huge impact on the Seminoles, leading them to their first ACC Championship game ever and their first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 11 years. He is a leader. He has outstanding basketball knowledge and he is an absolute competitor. As we approach the draft, how does Toney compare to the other guards in the draft?

In Chad Ford's initial Mock Draft (It's up to you to decide whether you agree or disagree with it), he has the following Point Guards listed ahead of Toney: (Draft position in parentheses) Ricky Rubio- Spain (3), Brandon Jennings- Italy (7), Stephen Curry- Davidson (8), Jrue Holiday- UCLA (10),  Jonny Flynn- Syracuse (13), Eric Maynor- VCU (17), Jeff Teague- Wake Forest (19), Ty Lawson- UNC (22), Nick Calathes- UF (23), Dareen Collison- UCLA (24).

I cannot comment on Ricky Rubio or Brandon Jennings as I have not seen them play this year, nor do I have a good set of stats for them as I don't follow European basketball that closely or at all.

Here is a comparison of Toney against Curry, Holiday, Flynn, Maynor and Teague. We have already seen how Douglas compares with Lawson (This is a link to a discussion on our blog after Lawson was named ACC Player of the year, clearly heavily biased opinions from our fans): neither one could stop the other but Douglas's numbers were better this year.

The following stats look at each players career numbers year by year. Clearly, some of these players only have one season under his belt and therefore the stats are limited.

 

 

Please keep in mind that these players play in completely different conferences and have different roles on their respective teams, this is simply for comparison.

 

 

Toney's senior offensive rating is as high as the others. Is this a result of Toney being a "late bloomer" or is it dependent on each player's role on their respective team? Flynn and Teague had to step up and lead their teams this year, as did Toney.

In terms of eFG%, Toney is consistent. Currey came back to reality this year and Toney is not significantly different from the others.

 

 

So everything seems perfect in the world of Toney Douglas so far. He can shoot, he plays a ton of minutes, he makes his free throws and plays some of the best defense in the country. The major knock that he has against him is his ability to distribute the ball.

 

 

Florida State's offense is not designed to highlight the passing abilities of a guard. The Seminole's offense depended on Toney. As you can see from the following chart, he was the Seminoles superstar on both ends of the court and their success was dependent on Toney's success. 

 

 

The Seminoles offense was not based on a dribble-drive motion offense or a classic pick and roll style. Hamilton primarily used a motion offense as his base set this year. However, due to the youth our our team, it took a long team for the offense to gel and for players to move well with out the ball, limiting Toney's opportunities to distribute the ball. I do not think that this should be a knock against Toney. Put him in the right system and he will do fine. Toney is not going to be the next Steve Nash of the NBA. I don't think I surprised anyone with that statement.

http://www.tampabay.com/multimedia/archive/00013/C4S_fsu031308_13602d.jpeg

Photo from here.

 

 

 

 

Despite having one of the highest steals per game and steal percentages, Toney did not commit that many more fouls per game than his colleagues. He is a crafty, energetic defender and he loves it. Keep in mind, that the ACC probably has some of the best guards in the country and is probably the deepest conference in the country for guard play: Ty Lawson, Gerald Henderson, Jeff Teague, Ogelsby, Rice, Bowie and so on. Not only did Toney shut these guys down (or limit them) he put up excellent offensive numbers.

Draft Express did an excellent job breaking down the numbers for all of the guards in this year's draft. I will not summarize their data but here is a link to their article. It is long, but I highly recommend it.

Here is what they had to say about our Toney:

Toney Douglas, was one of the most efficient players on our list, using over 20 possessions per game (20.7). His overall PPP of 1.04 was the second best of all players, while his PPP as a finisher of 1.22 was sixth best. As a jump shooter, he scored 1.41 PPP on unguarded catch and shoot attempts, and 1 PPP on pull ups. A gifted off the ball player who scores 1.23 PPP (5th) shooting off of screens and 1.14 PPP in spot up situations, Douglas is only an average shot creator (.85 Isolation PPP), but he doesn’t turn the ball over in the half court almost at all (9.7%, 2nd), has experience running the pick and roll (5.3 Pos/G, 2nd), is an excellent defender, and seems like an ideal complement to a taller ball-handling guard. His stock has risen in recent months, and will be interesting to how his limitations as a distributor (he ranks dead last in amongst all passing metrics amongst draft-eligible PGs) factor in to where he’s selected on draft day.

Again, keep in mind the Seminoles offensive system with regards to Toney's passing metrics. They didn't run an offense that was dependent on Toney's ability to pass the ball.

Draft Express lists the following as Toney's Strengths:

Ability to get to the free throw line

Ball Handling Skills

Lateral Quickness

Man-Man Defense

Outstanding Defender

Pressure Defense

Aggressiveness

Leadership Skills

Work Ethic

Athleticism

Strength

Wingspan

3 Point Range

Ability to Catch and Shoot

Ability to Come off Screens

Pull-up Jumper

In my opinion, that sounds like the exact skill set you want in a point guard in the NBA but with features of an offensive threat. Toney can play one on one on both ends of the court and his style of play is already adjusted to the style of play in the NBA.

Draft Express listed his decision making, shot selection, stuck between 1-2, older than class peers, poor passes, undersized and ability to finish around the basket as his weaknesses.

Florida State's Toney Douglas dunks over Stetson's Mark Lohuis in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008, in Tallahassee, Fla.

Image from here.

Toney can finish around the rim; it's not the focus of his game. You could argue that he forced up some poor shots this year, but he didn't have many options to distribute the ball instead of shooting, particularly at the beginning of the season. The Seminoles were one of the youngest college teams in the country and it was up to Toney to lead the way. Many argue that Toney doesn't have a defined position, like a Ben Gordon of the Chicago Bulls. Here is Toney's response to such comments: "I call myself a guard. I'm not a natural point. I'm not a natural two. I'm just a guard. I can do both. Me being versatile, I think I'm more of a threat out there on the court." You can find that quote and many others from this nice Sporting News article.

Here is a nice interview with Toney during the past season. Here is a nice video of Toney Douglas highlights from the 2008-2009 season. Here is the Seminoles.com interview with Toney.

Toney will be able to play night in and night out in the NBA. He will not likely be on the cover of NBA Live but I really think he can be a contributor and help an elite club. Toney has the character, courage, ability and desire to play at the next level.

What do you think about Toney's future NBA career? Where should he be drafted? What team do you think will benefit most from a player like Toney?

The main point to take from this article is that Toney is just as good as the guys being discussed ahead of him and he is ready to play in the NBA. I don't buy into the 'he's already 23 why would anyone draft him?" argument. Toney is not looking to become the next Derrick Rose. I'm just delighted my team already has a guy like Rose and it would be delightful to see Toney join him.

As always, I appreciate feedback and input and suggestions for articles. This is a quiet time of the year for college basketball. If we add any major players during recruiting, I'll keep you updated.

Cheers,

TC

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