C.J. Miles started off the season with the Utah Jazz looking lost. He only scored in double-digits three times in the first 10 games, while scoring four points or less in four of those contests. His shooting percentage looked a bit like the unemployment rate. Painful from every vantage point.
His poor performances made fans, and likely the coaching staff, wonder is this was going to be another fruitless year for the 24-year-old small forward.
For a team that is looking to find scoring from anyone, particularly from players on the wing, C.J.’s inability to contribute during the first stretch of the season must have made Tyrone Corbin and his coaching staff question the future of Miles’ role with the team.
Miles has exploded during the last six games, scoring 18 or more points in three games while averaging 14.4 points per game. That is a drastic turnaround from his December average of 8.5 points per game.
More important, C.J.'s shots are starting to drop. While his shooting percentage of 47 percent over the last six games is not exactly worth bragging about, it too is a noticeable turnaround from his shooting in December when he was only hitting 31.3 percent of his attempted field goals.
Much of his increased scoring and rise in shooting percentage comes from attacking the basket more, getting to the foul line and just feeling more comfortable on the court.
"I got some good looks, I got some drives and I got to the free-throw line. ... When I'm driving, that's when I'm most effective. I was just trying to make some plays. The last couple of weeks, my biggest thing is trying to put that ball on the floor and make some plays."
If Miles continues to play this well there may be pressure to put him in the starting lineup.
Raja Bell, who starts at shooting guard, is a different creature on the court than Miles. While Miles tends to shoot first and ask questions later (he is only averaging 0.9 assists per game), Bell is out there for veteran leadership and rarely contributes much to the stat sheets.
Raja is averaging only 5.9 points, 1.2 assists and 1.4 rebounds per game; the only category where he is outperforming Miles is in assists (1.2 to 0.9). Wait, why is he in the starting lineup again?
Miles seems to be breaking out of his slump, and if he continues to get after the rim and put the ball on the floor rather than settle for jumpers he should see an increase in points and minutes as the season wears on.