In Friday’s edition of the Standard-Examiner, we’ll publish a sports story I wrote about Utah Jazz shooting guard C.J. Miles.
The story details the internal battles Miles, 24, sometimes has when he’s on the court. Most notably, he’s usually wrestling with whether or not to pull up and shoot a jumpshot or drive to the basket for a layup.
In writing the article, I came to see Miles differently than I had before. Previously, I saw him as a jump shooter who needed to learn to drive to the basket more often. But now I wonder if he shouldn’t be defined as slasher who needs to become a better shooter.
Miles, a career 42 percent shooter, has been with the Jazz since 2005, when they drafted him out of high school. As an 18-year-old, Miles enticed fans with his potential. Now, seven years later, his inconsistent play seems to be frustrating fans more than ever.
This season he is shooting less than 40 percent from the field and that’s never a good number for a “shooting” guard. However, his season-high 27 points on Wednesday helped the Jazz earn a critical victory over the Houston Rockets.
Before Wednesday, the streaky Miles had been mired in a slump which saw him shoot just 4-for-22 over a four-game stretch.
Miles’ ability to shoot 10-for-16 and score 27 points one night, then go 1-for-9 with four points the next seems to drive fans crazy. Of course it doesn’t make him very happy, either.
He said he is aware of his inconsistent play and that Jazz fans are frustrated by it. And it seems that’s why he sometimes over-thinks the game. See, he has been told countless times to put pressure on defenses by slashing to the basket. But opposing teams often drop back on him, indicating they’d rather him beat them with the jumpshot instead of the dribble drive.
When he’s on his game, Miles instinctively knows when to drive or when to shoot. The problem is, sometimes he over-analyzes his options and before long he’s mired in a nasty slump.
That’s exactly what happened to him recently.
“There’s a reason why (the defender) is playing off me, because he doesn’t want me to drive,” Miles said. “I’m going to have to shoot them, and shoot them with confidence. I’m not saying anytime there’s (open) space you just jack one up, but if you’ve driven three times in a row and the guy stands three feet off of you, you can’t just run into him and everybody else in the paint.”
So, it seems the challenge before Miles is to make himself a better shooter. It’s not as though he doesn’t practice taking jumpshots, but if he can get himself above, say, 45 percent, opposing defenses will have to contest his jumpers more, which in turn will open up more space to drive.