Nothing about the 2017-18 season for the Washington Wizards so far has been more surprising than the emergence of Mike Scott, a six-year NBA veteran who through two months is on pace to have the best season of his NBA career after overcoming considerable odds to regain his form.
Scott continued to boost the Wizards with 22 points in a win against the Clippers on Friday night. That matched a season-high and his most since April of 2014.
In his past six games, Scott has piled up 80 points on a ridiculous 34-for-43 (79 percent) from the field. Scott admits it's the best stretch of his career and he's even surprising himself.
"I honestly didn't think I'd be shooting or playing like this, either," he said.
No one can blame Scott for not expecting this. The chances of him reaching this point seemed slim just months ago.
Scott was once a rotation mainstay with the Atlanta Hawks after joining them as a 2012 second round pick out of the University of Virginia. By his third season Scott was an important bench piece for a 60-win team on one of the deepest rosters in the NBA.
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But then several events happened that threatened Scott's NBA career. He had a host of injuries to his left leg beginning in the 2014-15 season, including to his toe, ankle and knee. Scott had surgery to repair his left ankle in July of 2015 and afterwards had platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment to help it heal.
It was a long road back to this point, but now he's healthy and able to be himself on the court.
"My ankle's feeling great, my knee's feeling great, my leg is feeling great," he said, noting he's the healthiest he's been since 2014. "I was telling one of my friends [over the summer] that if I'm healthy, everything else will take care of itself."
Throughout his injury saga, matters were complicated by a felony drug arrest in July of 2015. That took two years to settle and it helped contribute to a down season in 2015-16 and the worst year of his career in 2016-17.
Though he beat the case, the potential of a decades-long prison sentence weighed on him. Meanwhile he spent time in the D-League, was traded to the Phoenix Suns and subsequently waived.
"I rested my body and sulked. The court stuff wasn't over yet," he said. "I just sulked and got down on myself."
Scott's weight ballooned to 268 pounds. Sensing his NBA career was in the balance, Scott turned to two men to help him get back on track; a basketball coach named Mark Edwards and a trainer who goes by the alias Mr. Shut Up and Train. His real name is Rahman Grayson and he's worked with other NBA players like Jaylen Brown.
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In Scott, Mr. Shut Up and Train - the nickname is too good not to use - has quite the success story. He helped Scott drop 30 pounds in a matter of months, just in time to work out for the Wizards and earn a veteran's minumum contract worth $1.7 million.
The deal was basically a lottery ticket for the Wizards. They knew the player Scott once was and needed help on their bench. It was low risk, but potentially high reward.
So far they are getting the latter. Scott is averaging 8.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and is shooting a career-best 57.2 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three.
"He's great. He's a warrior," guard Bradley Beal said. "We played against him in the past and he hurt us in some ways, but we're happy to have him for sure."
Beal, though, has just one bone to pick. Back in 2015, Scott dunked on Beal in Atlanta and Beal still isn't quite over it. Now they have lockers close to each other in the Wizards' locker room.
"I was a fan of him, but I didn't like when he dunked on me a couple years ago. I gotta sit next to him and deal with it all the time," Beal said.
And on Friday night against L.A., Scott threw one down that caused flashbacks for Beal.
"Even tonight, the dunk he had, I said 'you've gotta get a new dunk' because that brings back some bad memories," Beal said.
Beal and the Wizards are just glad Scott is on their side now. Scott is reviving his career and it just happens to be with the team located not far from where he grew up in Chesapeake, Va.
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