Courtesy of Dennis D'Agostino, NYKnicks.com
Exactly one year ago, Toney Douglas hadn't even played one official NBA minute.
Now, at his second NBA Summer League, he just about qualifies as one of the Knicks' elder statesmen.
If you really want to know how much the face of the Knicks has changed over the past few months, just realize this: Of all the players the Knicks currently have under contract, only three --- Wilson Chander, Danilo Gallinari and Eddy Curry --- have more seniority in orange and blue than Toney Douglas.
That's Toney Douglas, who's played in exactly one NBA season.
And an eventful season it was. Over 56 games (12 starts) as a rookie, Douglas averaged 8.6 points --- 14th among NBA rookies -- shot .458 from the floor and nailed a team rookie record 68 three-pointers. His biggest impact was felt in the season's closing weeks, when he put up 13.6 points over the campaign's final 20 games, including 10 starts.
Now, just months removed from his NBA baptism, he sees a Knicks landscape that has completely changed around him.
"I feel like I'm going to be ready," says the 24-year-old Douglas. "The organization is doing what's best for it; I feel like we're going to be at least a top five team in the East."
One in which Douglas' role, in his second season, will be clearly defined.
"I feel way more comfortable," he says. "I have a year under my belt. I know what the coaches expect and I'm working on the things they expect me to do in the offseason. I've been working out since after the season, so hopefully my hard work will pay off."
Douglas has started each of the Knicks' first three games at this year's Summer League, putting up double-figure points in two of the three. He poured in a team-high 27 points (one more than his rookie season high) in the Knicks' Summer League opener against Denver, then had seven assists and five steals in a win over the Lakers. In Wednesday's loss to Toronto, Toney led the Knicks starters with 13 points, adding six assists.
Toney considers the annual Vegas trip a vital part of his ongoing improvement.
"Everything, I'm working on everything," he says. "I'm working on what's good and what's bad, on my overall game; dribbling, explosiveness, ball-handling, pick-and-rolls, defense, lateral movement. I'm working on everything; I just want to be an all-around player."
"A big part of Toney is his willingness to work and his desire to be better. He's one of the best at that," says head coach Mike D'Antoni. "He worked so hard all year and he's become a pretty good basketball player. He still needs to develop his point guard skills and needs to see the floor a little better. He's improved his shooting and his knowledge of the game."
Douglas feels that, come October, he'll blend in seamlessly with the all-new cast around him, one better suited for the Knicks' high-octane style.
"Definitely," says Douglas. "That's why we maintained this, it's for the best, for the way we like to run up and down the court."
"We saw all that (improvement) at the end of last year," says D'Antoni, "and hopefully next year will be just one more step in his development toward being a really good player."
As well as --- strange, but true --- a young veteran Knick.