There is no question Jeremy is in the worst shooting slump of his career. However, tonight his whole game was affected as his confidence has disappeared and he looked like a total mess. In the NBA, without belief in yourself, you have no shot. How and why has this happened?
First, lets look back at Linsanity of last year. This was a convergence of so many good things all coming together at the right and perfect time. The right system, the right coach, the right players surrounding him. It's much more obvious now how valuable Tyson was as his pick and roll big man. He had Shump as the shutdown defender who would help guard quicker point guards. Novak was automatic from outside. Jared Jeffries was the all around glue guy and his buddy Fields as his sidekick. Jeremy played with no fear and with the attitude of "I've got nothing to lose I might as well just swing for the fences". He was able to train for over 4 months straight due to the lock out at Sparta and with Doc. He got his opportunity and seized the moment and played his game.
Now, what a difference 7 months makes. The convergence of many not so good things have him in a slump and its erased any memory of Linsanity and have left many of us sad, befuddled, angry, impatient, ungrateful, unsure, pained, or any other non-positive emotion you can think of.
The first warning signs showed up in the summer as Jeremy didn't start working out hard until about mid July. A knee injury that supposed to take 4-6 weeks to heal, took about 12-14 weeks. Did he try to rush back too soon? Was there much more damage than reported? With a trip to Taiwan/China already scheduled for the full month of August, Jeremy didn't get more than two full months in at Sparta and with his shooting Coach Doc Scheppler. Doc is taking a lot of flack right now as Jeremy struggles but just remember, the JLin shooting of Linsanity was all Doc, as Jeremy has stated many times.
Next, seeing Jeremy in preseason, I immediately thought he was around 80% and that it would take at least a month to get close to 100%. His conditioning didn't look great either. It's been a month and he still looks a step slow and he hasn't regained all his explosiveness. He seems to fade in the 2nd halves so far and he doesn't seem to be in top condition.
With Jeremy starting to get in better rhythm at the end of preseason with his new teammates, his roll seemed to be set as the primary ball handler and shot creator. However, the last minute trade of Harden for Kevin Martin completely changed his role. Now, instead of having the ball in his hands 70-80% of the time while on the court, he may have it 30-40%. Jeremy just looks so uncomfortable out there most of the time. Especially, when he's running to the corner. Also, he seems to be running away from the ball as to not wanting to shoot. This is just messing up the whole flow of the offense.
Another not so good thing is the inexperience of this team. Not only in its play but being able to help Jeremy in overcoming his rough start. Jeremy stated many times how he received valuable input from the vets in NY.
All of these negatives have snow balled and now Jeremy is left with no jumpshot, no quick first step, no confidence, and no aggression.
With all of these things said, lets truly realize how much pressure this young man has on his shoulders. He is only human and as bad as we're feeling here, he is feeling 1000 times worse. For those of you who have followed him from his high school or college days until now, we know that he has overcome even bigger obstacles.
Many laughed when we said he is an NBA player. Then he became one. Many more hated and ridiculed when we said he would be a starter. Then he became one. Now many are so excited to say I told you so when he is struggling. People can laugh and hate as much as they like, but that won't stop us from supporting him 100%.
Lastly, it's up to Jeremy to make this right. It's not going to come easy. He is going to have to work his way through this. We know his character and the kind of man he is. We know he will come through. We'll stay positive and supportive in this tough time.