In less than a week’s time, Mike Scott has scored 22 points, tied for fourth-most in his career, twice against the Los Angeles Clippers. The journey that brought him to this point after a low point in his life is much more fascinating than the results Washington is currently reaping the benefits of.
The 29-year old is a Chesapeake, Virginia native and attended the University of Virginia for five years before being the 43rd overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2012 NBA draft. By his second season, he was a mainstay in the rotation and averaged a career-high in points that earned him a second NBA contract. Unfortunately, in March of 2015, he suffered a toe injury that began a downward spiral of bad luck.
A few months later in the offseason, he and his brother were arrested for drug possession of weed and ecstasy. Because of the quantities, Scott was in jeopardy of spacing up to 25-years in jail, but in May of 2017, all evidence was suppressed because of a suggested pattern of racial profiling by the police in Banks County, Georgia.
A couple seasons after the toe injury in 2016, he had consistent left knee soreness that required a series of non-surgical procedures. By this point, Scott’s left extremity had a history of injury to his toe, ankle, and knee. Just ten months ago in February, Scott was traded for next to nothing to the Phoenix Suns simply to be waived the next day. That was the mistake of Phoenix and 28 other NBA teams during the offseason.
“I love him; I love how he plays, I love how he competes [and] I love how he prepares,” head coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s not a fluke: you prepare the right way, you’re going to have success. All of the guys see it and they’re happy for him. … Surprised a lot of teams didn’t go after him. We’re happy they didn’t.”
For Scott, it was a long road back after being cut after last season’s trade deadline. He admitted that last season with the Hawks, he frankly “sucked.” He worked out for another team once being released, but it did not work out. He emotionally and his body physically “sulked.”
He credits the work of Mr. Shut Up and Train, Rahman Grayson, and Mark Edwards for getting him back on track this summer after weighing a whopping 268 pounds that he has now cut down to 231 months later.
“Got my body right,” Scott said about the work of Grayson and Edwards. “Helped me expand my range work on my versatility. … I lost 30 pounds and all credit goes to those two guys. … [The process was] tough. It was three months of hard work. Twice a day, five days a week, sometimes six.”
Scott believes he was not even fully healthy to start training camp with Washington three months ago and made a Joel Embiid joke that he was 68 percent healthy. Now, he thinks he is fully healthy, which is why he is putting up career numbers.
“The leg’s feeling good, ankles feeling great, knees feeling great,” Scott shared.
On the season, Scott is averaging 8.4 points on 55.1 percent shooting in 18.3 minutes per game, but he has turned it up even higher in his last six games. The forward has scored 80 points on 34 of 43 shooting (79 percent) and as John Wall likes to put it is a “walking bucket.”
“Definitely,” he responded when asked if this is the best stretch of his career. “I don’t know what to say, but I just keep my same routine, take the same shots. I don’t try to force any shots, I just take what the defense gives me, make the extra pass, play the right way. Good things happen when you play the right way.”
His teammates also have nothing but complimentary words to share about Scott.
“He’s great, man, and he continues to get better every time he steps on the floor,” Bradley Beal said. “We need him to shoot the ball. Not only want him but need him to. … I was a fan of him [before he joined the team], but I didn’t like him [because] he dunked on me a couple years ago. Now I got to sit next to him and deal with him all the time.”
“Mike has been great for us all year,” fellow power forward Markieff Morris said. “He was a great addition to our team. I’m glad we got him. We’re looking forward to later in the season when we really need him.”
“No, like I said before, I liked Mike a lot when he was at Atlanta,” Wall answered when asked if he was surprised by Scott’s production. “I didn’t know why he stopped playing a lot, but he was always the person that would kill us when we played. I didn’t know he shot the ball that well. The way he moves the ball and plays on both ends of the floor has helped our team a lot, and he’s given Markieff a boost until he finds his rhythm getting back from injury.”
Last year, the Wizards bench was one of the worst in the NBA because of poor investments that did not come anywhere close to hitting, namely Trey Burke, Marcus Thornton, Andrew Nicholson, and Ian Mahinmi. Without the much-desired monetary resources, Washington hit the lottery with Scott by signing his talents for a mere $1.7 million veteran’s minimum contract.