The sight of Earl Watson lingering on the court for up to 30 minutes following team practices over the past two weeks seemed bizarre.
The Thunder’s newest third-string point guard hasn’t played since March 11. And although Watson routinely would spend time after practice shooting before his benching, he’s taken his regimen to another level lately, working with an assistant coach on 3-pointers almost daily.
On Wednesday, I found out why.
“I feel like through every obstacle you have opportunity,” Watson said of his recent demotion. ”And I feel like for me it’s an opportunity for me to get better as a shooter. It’s the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity to shoot the ball and get up a lot of shots.”
Watson broke his right thumb last June while working out in L.A. He needed surgery on the finger and was expected to be out the rest of the summer and possibly the start of training camp. Watson hid his pain and played through the discomfort. But the numbers didn’t lie.
After shooting a career-high 45.4 percent from the field last season and 37.1 percent from behind the 3-point line, Watson is hitting just 37.5 percent of his shots from the field and converting on a career-low 23.8 percent from 3.
The solution? Get up 300 shots a day on non-game days and 600 on game days.
“My hand is starting to feel better and I’m getting more comfortable,” Watson said. “The doctor said it takes a full year to heal completely with any break and it’s actually getting closer. I can tell the difference in my shot. I can tell the difference with the way the ball fits in my hand. It was getting better the last couple of games before the DNPs. So it’s just a growth and for me that’s exciting.”