A well-known baseball player once said that 90% of the game is half mental. And this can easily be applied to all sports, including basketball. Talent isn’t the only factor that determines a player’s performance level. Sometimes, a change of scenery can be just as important. With the NBA trade deadline now behind us, here’s a look at three recently traded players who stand to benefit from getting a fresh start.
Reggie Jackson – Through his first two games as a member of the Pistons, Jackson is averaging 19.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists per contest. He’s also logging 32.5 minutes per game, which is key since he had not reached the 30-minute mark in any of his final 20 games with the Thunder. No longer buried behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the depth chart and with Brandon Jennings out for the season, Jackson now has a golden opportunity to take his game to the next level.
Michael Carter-Williams – In one day, Carter-Williams gained about 20 games in the standings by getting traded from the lowly Sixers to the Bucks, one of this season’s biggest surprise teams. The reigning Rookie of the Year has demonstrated an ability to fill up the stat sheet, despite his team’s never-ending struggles, and it can’t hurt for a point guard to have Jason Kidd as his new head coach. Expect Carter-Williams to take full advantage now that he has escaped the losing culture in Philadelphia.
J.R. Smith – Speaking of a losing culture, the Knicks are a disaster, and with Carmelo Anthony being shut down for the season, New York is well on its way towards finishing the year with the league’s worst record. Smith, a former Sixth Man of the Year who has dealt with a number of off-the-court issues throughout his career, is a whole different player when he’s motivated. Now with the contending Cavs, it’s safe to say that he’s motivated. Since joining Cleveland, Smith’s numbers have improved in just about every category, particularly three-pointers (from 1.3 to 2.6 per game) and steals (from 0.8 to 1.7 per game).
OK, maybe for Smith, 95% of the game is three-quarters mental.