How to find confidence amid inconsistent playing time

On the latest episode of "Strictly Hoops with C.J. Miles", Miles discusses what players like Malachi Flynn should do to maintain confidence when their playing time is inconsistent. Listen to the full episode on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed or watch on our YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: You just have to, it's about your work, your progress, and how do you consistently find that confidence in yourself when things are just in some ways consistently like not going well, even if it is just for like a four or five six-game stretch?

C.J. MILES: It's, so like, one of the things that five, six six-game stretch can feel like an eternity sometimes, right? Like it's just, NBA time. But the biggest thing is understanding like we were talking about. The vision of what you want to be and what you want to do and controlling what you can control.

So I can't control that I'm not getting minutes right now. I can control, being prepared for the time I do get minutes. The [INAUDIBLE] game in Detroit is not luck. There's no such thing as luck. You can't, nobody gets, we call it luck, but nobody that's unprepared gets lucky if you know what I mean.

AMIT MANN: That's a quote. That's a quote right there.

C.J. MILES: That's not--

AMIT MANN: That's a quote right there.

C.J. MILES: --That's not a real thing, because I have to get, being put in that position, there has to be a bunch of work done before that day for me to play that way. And obviously, like you want to continue to keep doing it, but getting that chance and getting that game, is proof to him that it does work. I the next game he doesn't, he doesn't have the same type of numbers, but it's not always going to be about numbers.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

C.J. MILES: And it's such, people don't, I think people from the outside don't realize how hard that decision is to be in to be a young guy on a good team with good players in front of you. I've been that guy. I was behind Andre Kirilenko when I first came in. And there were nights that he would decide he was hurt or he wasn't going to play, they were going to rest him, and I would go from being in a suit behind the bench to starting. And it didn't matter how I played, the second he played, I went back to being in the suit.

There are nights of me scoring 25 and 5 and doing these things, thinking I'm going to go making my mark to set these, set the pace, and he comes back and I know my play. The net, literally back to back sometimes. And the thing is, you just have to go right back into the gym and control what you can control. And I that's, it's hard to do and it's easier said than done, but if you want to be great and you've got to go in a vision, that's what you have to do.

AMIT MANN: That's a roller coaster, man.

C.J. MILES: It's exactly what it is. It's a roller coaster. Especially when you're young and you hear a bunch of voices. You got the people, like we're talking about asking the questions and they're on his Twitter saying, oh, you should be playing more, you should be playing this, or do you just had that great game, why didn't you get to do it?

And then you get the people that say, you had 27 last game, why didn't you have it again tonight? You should be able to do that every night. And there's so much stuff that's thrown at you. And you just have to figure out how to stay your course to really make your identity. Because he doesn't know exactly what he's going to be yet. He knows he has a bunch of potential and the coaches know that.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

C.J. MILES: We need minutes to prove everything else.

AMIT MANN: The potential is a difference maker I think with Dalano and Malachi, only in the sense that they both have potential. But with Dalano, you can see it, man. It's like a 6'8" player, explosive, like guarding multiple positions, fast as the wind, getting up and down the court, three strides, he's at the rim. Like all this stuff, it's right there for Dalano.

And so when in any case, I think it's reasonable to say after what we've seen last season and this season, that if it comes down to it, is Nick Nurse going to put in Dalano Banton or Malachi Flynn, it's probably going to be Dalano, right? So for Malachi, I mean, I keep on talking about this, like, I just feel for him.

Like if the pandemic, I was thinking about this, if the pandemic doesn't happen, the Raptors probably don't draft Scottie Barnes. And before that, Malachi Flynn was like the up and coming backup point guard on the Raptors, you know. Kyle, Fred, Malachi Flynn. He was the next one, right, the prodigy, so to speak. And here he is now, and just like that, things have changed for him. And I'm not really sure where things are for him or where he goes from here.

Like, he's talked about the same thing that you just said, trusting my work and just believing things are going to work out. But damn, man. This is tough. Like, you can see the flashes with him. Like, he may not be like a star or something like that, like, who the hell knows. But you can confidently say that he is a good point guard.

C.J. MILES: Yes, yes.

AMIT MANN: Right? He's good. So what do you do right now if you're him?

C.J. MILES: You almost have to develop this confidence that is so great in yourself, like you have to overwork. You have to be overly ready, because there's going to be nights you're going to get four minutes, there's going to be a night that you haven't played in two weeks and Fred's going to get three fouls or somebody's going to be down.

There's going to be, it's so like a roller coaster, like you said, it's so crazy. You have to work so hard and be so focused, it's almost unfair, like, to be honest. Like I was talking about being in this position before where just like when I step on that floor, I got to kill.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

C.J. MILES: And that doesn't mean I go shoot it every time I touch it, but I have to affect this game. Because the other thing that we're talking about is like, it might not be happening here right now, but every other team in the league sees what I'm doing when I do get a chance. There's teams that come to games and watch you work out before games when they got their eyes on you to see how you treat that work when you haven't played in a month.

Like, you got to, it's such a professional mindset, it's such a hyper focused mindset to make yourself and turn yourself into a rotation player from this position. Like I said, it's almost crazy talk. But you've got to look in the mirror and you've got to tell yourself, I'm still who I think I am. And that's the best advice I could give him if I was talking to him face to face, and any young player that's going through that. Don't let any of this make your confidence waver.