C.J. Miles explains why sophomore slumps happen

On the latest episode of "Strictly Hoops with C.J. Miles", Miles discusses why it's common for sophomores like Scottie Barnes to go through slumps in their second seasons. Listen to the full episode on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed or watch on our YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: It does bring an interesting question. What goes into a sophomore slump? How does it happen?

CJ MILES: So first, part of this is in Scottie's head more than it is in everybody else's. He wants to be great. He is great. He wants to be phenomenal, let's say that. And coming off rookie of the year, going to the summer, being the workaholic he is, trying to add all these things to his game, coming into the season, everybody's playing really well. You're trying to add things to your game. The defenses are different. They're ready for you now. You're a big part of the scouting report. Playing different positions because of injuries and things of that nature. And just trying to grow. And there's a pressure he carries on himself, every player does. And it's not-- you've got to have a little bit to be great. You've got to put the pressure on yourself first before anybody else does. Because if you don't do it first, when it comes from the outside, you won't accept it. It'll feel like people are attacking you.

So his biggest thing is just continuing to play through these lulls. It's going to happen. There's different-- it's just different. And everybody's got to go through this fire. It's the same fire we talked about with Pascal, him being able to get to where he is now, he had to go through the fire of becoming that guy to gain the confidence and learn what moves he needed to go work on, what moves and reads I needed to go fix, things I need to see. He's just going through that. Scottie's playing point guard, point guards full court, posting, running pick and rolls, directing traffic, doing all these things while trying to grow. And he's got games without his two best players on the floor with him. Now, the focus is all the way on him.

AMIT MANN: And those are valuable reps for him. But we had talked last episode about the pack line defense that Pascal was seeing. Guess who's been seeing it over the past few games? It was Scottie Barnes. And that's a different beast, man. And the pull up shot, it was going against Miami and that was great to see that it came back. I think he had four pull up jumpers in the first quarter. And you want to see those going down. Obviously he's working on that. And it's nice to see the fruits of the labor.

But it was very similar shots that he was taking during his perceived struggles. But they just weren't going in. And I don't know. I'll throw it to you in a second here. But it seemed like at points, the mechanics on his finishing were a little bit off. It wasn't as confident. It wasn't as strong. What I loved about Scottie last season was that he seemed so confident under pressure, meaning the paint, long arms, verticality, seven footers. And he was always able to get off these. His touch around the rim is so nice. But that kind of was lacking a little bit. And it seemed to be coming back against Miami there.

CJ MILES: I think some of that comes from just overthinking it a little bit. So you start fidgeting, you start tinkering with stuff. Because shots aren't falling. I've been in these positions. You kind of start trying to make the ball go in instead of trusting your work. And things with offensive things, shooting and your touchscreen, some of that stuff comes from reps and reps and reps and reps and reps. And it becomes a natural thing. And when it stops being natural and you start tinkering in the game, and then on the days that are not games, you're doing it a totally different way, it's not going to flow right. And I think some of that is just him relaxing. And like a game last night is a stepping stone towards relaxing again and understanding, stay in the process. I know people like to say that. And we think it's this cliche thing.

But it's literally what it is. And we talk and you go through the season. And at the end of the year, let's say he's averaging 18, eight, and eight. We're not going to break down and say, well, these two weeks he only averaged 12 and nine. You know what I mean? But all of those days add up to the 18, eight, and eight. There's going to be a stretch where he averages 25, six, and six. That's going to add up. And then we're not going to talk-- at the end of the year, we're going to talk about him averaging 18, eight, and eight and being who he is. And it's all a collective, and it's all a learning experience.