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Mike Scott's mindset: 'The basket feels like an ocean'
The 6'8" forward has been one of the NBA's hottest shooters in December
Veteran free agents are often seen as difference-makers on and off the court, and Mike Scott has been no different this season with the Wizards.
After what Scott described as a season in which he just plain sucked, the 6'8" forward is finally healthy and finding his stroke with the Wizards in the 2017-18 season. Scott is averaging career-highs in field goal percentage (58.5%), 3-point shooting percentage (42.2%), and minutes per game (19.2). He's scoring a career-high with 9.8 points per game after Tuesday's game, and has scored in double-figures in 14 games this season.
Averaging 17.5 points in his last six games, Scott has made 53 of his last 72 field goal attempts. At 73.6%, that's the second-best shooting percentage in the league over the last seven games (minimum 35 attempts), only behind the Rockets' Clint Capela. Scott is the only player in the top four to have attempted more than two 3-pointers in the last seven games.
Shooting and scoring isn't the only category Scott is excelling in. His ability to play inside and out and guard more physical players like he did against LeBron James on Sunday gives Scott Brooks another versatile player off the bench. Over the last 15 games, Scott is first on the team with a 12.7 Net Rating, and second on the team in Defensive Rating, with the Wizards only giving up 100.2 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.
Still, the way Scott is shooting the ball stands out the most. Among players who have taken 20 or more midrange jump shots, Scott leads the NBA with 68.5% midrange shooting (37-for-54). His 26-of-41 (63.4%) non-restricted area shooting in the paint is also best among reserves in the league. He's shooting at or above the league average at 12 of the 14 spots on the floor.
Considering the difficulty of his stepback jump shots and 3-point attempts, Scott's shooting percentages are even more impressive. He credits his success to sticking to his shooting regiment before games and after practices. Scott's mindset is simple: he has the confidence that every time he shoots the ball, it's going through the net.
“That’s my mindset every time. I don’t know, I’m just in a shooting groove where everything is going in. The basket feels like an ocean. I just continue to work on my game, on my shots every game. After every practice, my shooting team – we do the same thing, and it’s starting to show a little bit.”
Scott says he lost between 30 and 35 pounds over the offseason to get ready for this season. He acknowledged that he got lazy after dealing with injuries last season, but was able to get right back on the grind. His shooting success has been all about having the right mindset, knowing that the ball is going in.
"For one, it was to get healthier," Scott said on Tuesday about his offseason. "I'm healthier than I was in April when I got here, and I'm healthier now than I was when I [first] got here [to D.C.]."
Scott stepped up earlier in the year when Markieff Morris was sidelined after sports hernia surgery, and has played a bigger role with Morris' return. Scott came to the Wizards open to playing any role the team needed him to play, and that even meant sitting and not playing at all in some games once Morris returned.
"I liked Mike a lot when he was at Atlanta," John Wall said of Scott on Friday after Scott scored 22 points in a win over the Clippers. "I didn't know why he stopped playing a lot, but he was always the person that would kill us when we played. The way he moves the ball and plays on both ends of the floor has helped our team a lot, and he's given Markieff a boost until he finds his rhythm getting back from injury.”
In terms of team chemistry and getting to know the rest of the Wizards, Scott is fit right in. Coach Brooks loves how he plays, competes, and prepares. Scott works hard when people aren't watching, and his success on the court shows that.
"They’re competitors, they play hard, they’re tough, fierce," Scott said. "I’m glad I’m a part of that now. It feels good – they took me in, and I feel like one of the brothers now.”