Meyers Leonard had a rough game in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, putting up four points on 2-of-8 shooting in 26 minutes against the Thunder. This was not his first such struggle this season. Although his frustration with himself continues to build, he remains positive. Jason Quick of CSNNW speaks with Leonard about consistency and outlook.
One of the keys to being an NBA player is doing it consistently. What’s the hardest thing about being consistent?
The thing is there’s so many games, so you have to have short term memory whether you do poorly. Certainly, for me, I haven’t played to my level of expectation—I’m sure to the coaches’ level of expectation—and to where my teammates know I can play. Now, I do know that I have a lot of confidence in myself, I’m approaching everything the same way, my mechanics are the same, I believe in myself, my team, the coaches, the fans. I’m sure, and I hope they all still believe, because I feel like I’m just that close.
Individually, it certainly is frustrating when a guy like Damian [Lillard] comes off the pick-and-roll, fires it back to me, and I’m open, I just don’t convert it, or I shot fake on the baseline, shoot a simple floater, and it’s just a tiny bit short. So there’s a lot of things I feel are so close and, watching the film, the thing that is encouraging I suppose, for me, is that I still space the court. Our guys are getting shots and our offense is flowing, I believe because of the spacing that I provide.
However, the fact that I haven’t executed to my ability is frustrating, but, again, I know that I can be a very effective player; a player that can shoot the ball—do more than shoot the ball—defend, be vocal, be a leader alongside Damian CJ [McCollum], the rest of the guys. I feel like I’m just that close and I feel like I’m going to look back in 5, 10, maybe 20 games down the line and be like, ‘Man, I can’t believe I was at that point,’ because, again, I feel like I’m right there. I just have to continue to believe.
The encouraging thing is that I know the guys believe and the coaches believe. Damian takes me after our last game at home and said ‘Man, just keep believing. Keep playing hard,’ and he said ‘Free yourself,’ and that helped me. I sat down the other night and really thought about what he said, you know, ‘Free yourself,’ and I think that I just want to do so well for myself, for my family, for my teammates, for the coaches, even for the fans. All these people know that I’m capable and I know I’m capable, and I just haven’t quite executed the way I’d like to.
Just the person I am, I want to do well, I want to have people believe in me, and so I just ask for people’s continued support because it’s coming. I know it is. Patience.
Does it make it easier or harder that there’s a lot of guys in the same boat on this team? This team’s trying to figure out a lot about a lot of guys.
As far as my individual thought process and what I’m trying to do to help the team, I think that really doesn’t have much bearing on what’s going on. You know, Damian’s going to get his shots, CJ’s going to, Ed [Davis] is going to be around the rim, Allen [Crabbe] is going to come in and get his midrange—his threes—Gerald [Henderson] is going to be aggressive, Moe [Harkless] comes in and plays with length, does things in transition—on down the line. I could speak about every guy. Every guy has opportunities. Every guy in this locker room believes in the next guy to make the right play.
I believe that’s why we… although sometime don’t convert, we’re making the right basketball plays, and that’s why guys enjoy being around each other and enjoy playing with each other. So, as a collective unit, we have to continue to believe. Individually, I have to continue to believe. I have to continue to approach everything the same way I always have and just keep pushing forward, man. I mean, because I know that it’s just that close.
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