Confidence is key to being a good basketball player and a consistently good shooter. If you don’t realize that as a player and understand how to manage and deal with it, you’re going to have a hard time.
“Being confident, that’s half the battle,” he said during his interview.
Last season, the success of the Mavericks was often tied to THJ’s percentage behind the arc. Simply put, most of the time THJ had to have a good shooting game for the team to win. Per Statmuse, Tim Hardaway Jr.’s three-point percentage in wins was 40.7 last season. In losses, it was 36 percent.
It wasn’t viable or sustainable for Mavericks wins to be tied to THJ’s shooting, but with the short and inadequate roster, it was the reality last season. And luckily for the Mavs, THJ never stopped shooting. For a three-point shooter to have success, he has to keep shooting. Even if he’s missed the first five shots, he has to keep shooting and believe that the 6th shot will fall.
It’s not an easy task to keep shooting if the ball isn’t falling, and we have see players like Maxi Kleber and Reggie Bullock (last season) struggling to get enough shots up when they’re not going in. To give THJ credit, he does not have that problem. He knows that he needs to keep shooting, even if the ball doesn’t go in (no matter how hard it may be to watch).
This is a winner’s mentality - and it’s important in order to remain an offensive threat and keep confidence up.
“You put the work and hours in. As long as you keep the same form, keep the same shot, a majority of the time it’s going to go in,” THJ said on Media Day, showcasing the confidence of an elite shooter.
Everyone struggles with confidence once in a while. From the biggest NBA stars to the average person, trying to make ends meet, everyone will experience times in their lives when they doubt themselves. In basketball, we often talk about shooting slumps, which is something all players and especially the ones whose main expertise is shooting, suffer from.
Shooting slumps can last a quarter, a game, a month - or derail a whole career if you don’t get a handle on the mental aspect.
When you’re a great shooter, your biggest enemy is often yourself. The confidence in your shot despite a slump is the main thing keeping a good shooter from being a great shooter.
Last season, THJ shot 7.7 threes a game - almost eight times from behind the arc. He made an average of 3.0 three-pointers a game, making his three-point average 38.5. Sometimes most went in, like when the Dallas Mavericks played the New York Knicks on December 3rd, 2022, and THJ had a season high eight threes. Other times, he couldn’t even get one to fall, like on at least two occasions last season, when he was 0/7.
If you don’t have a good grasp of that next play mentality most great players have, you can get stuck thinking about your previous misses. Once you start expecting a miss, it’s hard to come out of. It often requires deep self-insight, or professional help if it lingers, to get out of that vicious circle. According to THJ, it’s all about looking forward instead of looking back:
“Last season, how it ended, definitely was a hiccup. But having been in that situation before, I knew we were a great team. I knew what we could do. I think it was more of a move-on, time to work, no sulking, no looking back, just look forward and get better.”
Next play, next game, next season mentality. THJ just taught us a lesson about the mental aspect of being an elite shooter.