C.J. Miles' reputation among Jazz fans is probably at an all-time low. He's shooting at percentages well below his norm of the last two years, making Carlos Boozer look like a member of the All-Defense team, and posting twitter updates about his woes in a syntax that is making no one forget that he's never attended a single college class. Despite the obviousness of all these problems, he's developed a shot selection that would make Don Nelson blush; earning him the appellation "Chucker J. Miles" as he uses possessions at a higher rate this season than any other in his professional career. The rational response when you're in an extended slump is to shoot less and try to do other things well until your shooting touch comes back to you. C.J.'s response is to chuck at a rate higher than ever before at increasingly worse success rates. At this point in his career, it only feels unfair to refer to Miles as a "volume scorer" because that would require him to be a little more successful at scoring.
C.J.'s reaction to suddenly failing at the one thing he's supposed to count as a core NBA competency (shooting), has been to do that one thing even more frequently despite plummeting success rates. I believe this is occurring because, while all of us see C.J. as a middling NBA player who's hardly essential to team success, C.J. still views himself as the child prodigy that can't fail. Remember that C.J. was hailed for several years in high school as one of the top 10 athletes in the country, had his shooting stroke compared to Jesus Shuttleworth himself, and was considered a fair bet to be an elite NBA player with even a little luck. On top of that, the organization has repeatedly represented that they believed he was a long-term answer at the shooting guard position, matching a generous contract offer from Oklahoma City for his services for four seasons. C.J. looks back at his prodigal past and the contract he's been given and believes he still has the potential to be Ray Allen, even though no one else would project that future for him today. In effect, at this point in his career, C.J. is the only person who remembers the infinite promise. Meanwhile the fans can't foresee any promising future for CJ, in large part because we never saw his high school games and he's never produced that singular game that makes us salivate for the future while remembering that he's still only 22 years old. Even Tony Delk had one magical night in his career, CJ is still searching for his. Thus, there is a strong gap between C.J.'s perception of himself and the reality everyone else can see, paradoxically because C.J. actually has the most information about his own career and the majority of his playing experience features him as the best player in the game. In Entourage terms, C.J. still believes that he's going to be Vincent Chase, but in reality everyone but him knows that he's Turtle.
This isn't necessarily an insult. Turtle has his good points. Evidence suggests that at one point in time he was a better than average bookie, he discovered Saigon, and he also appears to be providing Jamie Lynn Sigler with a career. Other characters on the show remember him as being the guy who was able to finance Vincent Chase's original move to L.A. and thus credit him with some of Vince's resulting success. Because these events took place off-screen, however all the viewer sees is that Turtle is a leech on people who are more successful than him collecting a string of Cadillacs and using reflected fame as leverage to sleep with models. Similarly, C.J. actually has a strong history of flashes of brilliance, it's just been at a level the rest of us can't see because it has occurred outside of the games that have been broadcast to Jazz fans. We only see Turtle driving the car, not breaking people's thumbs in New York to get Vince's travel money. At the end of the day, though, those flashes don't mean anything and you have to make something of yourself. Even Turtle went back to college.
[Interlude: If you think I'm not using this analogy as an excuse to cast the rest of Entourage with Jazz players and staff you're crazy.
Carlos Boozer is Eric Murphy: the admittedly indispensable character with a complicated personal relationship (sorry Cece, you know it's true) and an unlikeable personality. Paul Millsap also has a case for being "E" because, you know, he's "undersized," which may or may not be related to the consumption of Anaconda Malt Liquor.
Kyrylo Fesenko's "jackpotting around" defeinitively labels him as Johnny Drama. And if he were to ever drop to his knees and shout "Victorrrrrryyyyy!" after a Jazz win he might surpass Stockton as my favorite player ever. I wish I was kidding about that.
Lloyd Lee has been the bottom with two boyfriends. Kevin O'Connor has been the bottom in two trades this season.
To those that don't have HBO, I apologize]
The current behavior we see from C.J., where he appears to believe that the rim did him some horrible wrong in the past and must be punished by having a round orange object repeatedly caromed off of it, can only be corrected by a forced snap back to reality. He has to be made to know that he will never be a star, otherwise he's going to keep trying to shoot his way back into being considered an intriguing young talent.
Sloan merely benching him won't do the trick because everyone knows that they can be marginalized from importance on the team without regard to their abilities. Anyone who forgets that lesson need merely stop by Andrei Kirilenko's locker and ask him to describe his career from 2006-2009. Instead C.J. needs to be forcefully informed that he is entirely fungible, a superfluous player that could easily be replaced and will be on a moment's notice. Unfortunately, the organization has sent him exactly the opposite message by shipping out Ronnie Brewer and stating that they did so in order to "resolve" their logjam at the position. Had they gone the other way and let C.J. know that he was the odd man out, that might have been the wake-up call he needed to realize his true destiny as a role player instead of as a budding star. Instead, the team has reinforced his delusion by clearing an obstacle out of his way. That's going to be the wrong decision both for the team and for C.J. in the long run.