Chris Chiozza says that right now, his favorite NBA player and role model is Chris Paul. No surprise for the pass-first point guard. but as a youngster...
“Growing up, one of my favorite players was Jason Kidd,” he told the Brooklyn Nets social media team a couple of days ago. “So I always liked the Nets. So it’s crazy how my life has come full circle and I’m now part of the team.”
He also described being a member of the Nets “amazing” and “a blessing.”
Prior to the shutdown, Chiozza was playing behind the injured Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie in the Nets point guard depth chart and producing, in part because like Kidd, Paul and the two guys in front of him, he’s not afraid to let it fly when the occasion warrants.
Now, without games, he’s stuck at home as well as in limbo. His two-way deal had only a few days left when he played a big role in the Nets win over the Lakers on March 10. As we’re reported before, once the moratorium on transactions ends, the Nets will have to make a decision on whether to give him a standard NBA contract so he can play in the post-season ... or let their rights to him expire.
“I was playing the best basketball I’ve played,” Chiozza told The Athletic this week. “And then this happened.”
But the 5’11” 24-year-old hasn’t let things get him down. He believes he’s shown the Nets enough and is grateful for the opportunity.
“I think I did a great job of contributing to this team and just being a guy they’d like to keep around, but I’m not stressing about it,” Chiozza said. “If it’s meant to be, it will happen. Hopefully it works out for the best, but I would hope I’ve done enough.”
Among the contributions, of course, were his roles in the Nets’ road wins over the Celtics and Lakers in the Nets five-game run before coronavirus sent everyone home. It wasn’t just his passing, which will always be his strong suit, but also, he shot his shot ... like this ballsy three near the end of regulation in Boston...
CHRIS CHIOZZA SHOOT YOUR SHOT!!!!! pic.twitter.com/THsLLvHnfV— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 4, 2020
Or this one vs. the Spurs in a winning effort a few days later...
And of course, there was the shot that got Kevin Durant off his feet in an otherwise or forgettable game vs. the Grizzlies.
In fact, in the big win vs. the Lakers, his offensive rating was a staggering 135.
It surprised his teammates ... and probably the organization ... that he was willing and able to shoot the shot. In the Nets locker room before the Spurs game, Chiozza recalled that Theo Pinson walked up to him and started teasing him.
“You used to pass up so many open shots,” said Pinson who is a buddy (and the player most rumored to be cut IF the Nets have to rejigger their roster if and when games return.)
It wasn’t so much that he can’t shoot the 3-ball. He just wasn’t. In his brief stints with the Rockets last season and the Wizards this season, he shot better than 40 percent but shot rarely, In his G League travels, 67 games over two years, he shot 37 percent but took only five 3-pointers per game while playing an average 32 minutes a game.
In the Lakers game, playing 17 minutes off the bench, he took seven 3-pointers and made three. Over the five-game stretch in March, when the Nets went 4-1, he took 19 three’s and made 10 in average of 19 minutes. For the month, he shot 55/56/100.
That doesn’t mean he’s giving up his passing game. Far from it. Caris LeVert’s 51-point game vs. the Celtics was aided by Chiozza who explained his simple strategy post-game.
“He made a couple of shots, and we made a run,” said Chiozza. “I said, ‘We’ve got a chance at this right here.’ In the fourth quarter, he came out and was hitting everything. I just tried to find him as much as I could.
“I told him during the timeout, ‘Let me bring the ball up, and you’ve got to score. When you get to your spot, you just put your hands up, and I’ll get you the ball.’ That’s what he did the whole fourth quarter. He got to his spot.”
No lies detected there. Take a look.
Chiozza won’t ever be confused with Chris Paul or Jason Kidd, but Nets fans think he reminds them of J.J. Barea or Fred VanVleet, two diminutive pass-first point guards who like Chiozza went undrafted but developed their shooting touuch and became highly valued bench players. Both also contributed to NBA championship clubs.
After the Boston game, LeVert said Chiozza had “played his ass off,” noting his willingness to take the open shot. The Florida product said the Nets faith in him had made him more confident.
“It just takes my confidence up to another level. I’ve always been a very confident player. I’ve always believed in myself. I was more worried about winning the game and not really the opportunity I had. It was an opportunity to win instead of just worrying about me being in there.”
Adding a consistent ability to hit 3-pointers to his repertoire will help him no matter where he plays next. Hoping he sticks around.
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