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Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Four Words Magic GM Otis Smith Will Not Say

Even before the moment that the Orlando Magic selected J.J. Redick with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, I compared him to Trajan Langdon and questioned whether he could be a starting shooting guard on a playoff team. A couple months ago, David Thorpe of IMG and ESPN directly contacted me to explain why he still thinks that Redick can in fact successfully fill such a role but apparently Thorpe has a lot more confidence in Redick's skills than even the Magic do at this point--and the Magic certainly have a vested interest in seeing Redick succeed considering the valuable draft choice that they used to obtain him, quite possibly the last lottery pick that they will have in the Dwight Howard era.

The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi writes that this whole situation can be simplified into four words that GM Otis Smith will not say: "I made a mistake." Smith drafted Redick but will not admit that the former Duke star is, as Bianchi puts it, "the biggest bust this city has seen since Paris Hilton's nightclub." Instead, Smith insists, "I still think the kid can play for us. I feel no differently about him today than I felt yesterday and the day before. I feel he can be a very good backup 2-guard for us." Keep in mind that we are not talking about a second round pick or a free agent signing--Redick was a lottery pick. Bianchi compares Smith's statement about Redick to "an editor telling a young sportswriter, 'Kid, if you work really hard, you might someday end up doing the bowling roundup for us.'"

Bianchi bluntly notes, "The thing is, Smith has admitted the mistake in every way possible--except verbally. He admitted it two weeks ago when he drafted Western Kentucky shooting guard Courtney Lee. And he admitted it two days ago when he came to terms with (Golden State's Mickael) Pietrus on a four-year, $22 million contract. If you're scoring at home, I believe the Magic now have 11 shooting guards on their roster, and Redick is No. 10 -- one spot behind Nick Anderson, who retired six years ago.

Those of you who believe that Redick will flourish if he is granted a change of scenery should consider this observation by Bianchi: "There is absolutely no other determination you can make on Redick except to say he has been a failure in a Magic uniform. He's played two seasons under two different coaches and still occupies a seat at the end of the bench. He couldn't get on the floor for the defensive-minded Brian Hill and couldn't get on the floor for the offensive-minded Stan Van Gundy. What's it say when Redick, one of the best pure long-range shooters in college basketball history, can't play for Van Gundy, whose system puts a premium on long-range shooters?"

Still, perhaps hedging his bets, Bianchi does leave open the possibility that Redick could at least get off of the bench and play meaningful minutes for another team and he says that the Magic should cut their losses and trade Redick for whatever they can get, even though it will obviously not even come close to matching the draft pick they used to select him. That's the point, though: shooters are at a premium in the NBA and everybody in the league is obviously quite familiar not only with Redick's resume but also with the fact that he is chained to the bench in Orlando. What does that tell you? Either a whole bunch of GMs are missing out on the chance of a lifetime to steal Redick away for a bag of beans or Redick simply is not a legit NBA rotation player.

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posted by David Friedman @ 4:07 PM

6 comments

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6 Comments:

At Thursday, July 10, 2008 6:45:00 PM, Anonymous brandon hoffman said...

David:

What's the difference between a guy like Redick and Steve Kerr? Kerr was 6-3, 175 pounds. Redick is 6-4, 190 pounds. Both players can/could hit the long ball. Neither player has/had athleticism. Both players possess/possessed a high basketball IQ. Is it unreasonable to assume Redick could excel on a team like the Lakers or Spurs?

 
At Friday, July 11, 2008 12:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i certainly agree that redick isnt worth anything as an nba player... a product of the duke hype machine (dukie vitale, etc.)

that said... look at the 2006 draft... looks really weak -- especially for players taken 11th (redick's spot) or lower ... the only real stars are brandon roy (6th) and tyrus thomas maybe (4th)...

so did the magic make that big a mistake or just get stuck with a high pick in a weak draft?

 
At Friday, July 11, 2008 2:32:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Brandon:

That is a very good question. While they may superficially appear to be similar, I believe that there are several important differences:

1) Although Redick is obviously an exceptional shooter when he is open, I think that Kerr was an even better shooter.

2) Kerr could play pg--in his second year in the NBA, he had 248 assists in just 1664 minutes, which prorates out to about six assists per 40 minutes of playing time. For his career, Kerr averaged roughly an assist every 10 mpg. Redick's playing time has obviously been limited but in the NBA he has averaged just one assist for every 17 minutes that he is on the court. Redick is strictly an undersized shooting guard who is below par in every skill set except stand still jump shooting and free throw shooting--and his free throw shooting prowess is irrelevant because he rarely goes to the free throw line.

3) Although Kerr was not a great defender, he was better defensively than most people probably think and he took a lot of pride in working hard at that end of the court. Redick has serious problems in this area and those problems are compounded by the fact that he cannot play pg. All the good shooting guards are bigger, stronger, quicker and better athletically than he is.

As you may know, I've interviewed Kerr a few times and I did a piece about his career for HoopsHype. The first time I spoke with Kerr, he frankly admitted to me that he was--in his own words--on his way out of the league before Phil Jackson and the Bulls picked him up. If the Bulls had not signed him his career would likely have ended in the early 1990s. Perhaps there is that one team out there with the perfect system for Redick to come in and be the seventh or eighth guy but, as I noted above, he does not shoot as well as Kerr did and is not as versatile offensively or defensively. Frankly, the idea of Redick ever being a starting shooting guard in the NBA strikes me as ludicrous. My expectation is that his future lies in Europe, much like Trajan Langdon's. There are good playoff teams that need shooters and Orlando would obviously love to get rid of Redick, so why aren't the Sixers or somebody like that stepping in to claim Redick?

Compare Redick to the bench guards on last year's Finalists: House is extremely quick, is a deadeye shooter and he hustles all over the court; Cassell is a wily veteran who knows how to get off a shot and draw fouls and in his younger days he could run a team and put up big numbers; Farmar is nearly as big as Redick, much quicker, can play the point, knocks down open shots and is able to pressure ballhandlers; Vujacic is 6-6, quicker than Redick, shoots well and can play pg or sg. If Redick had been on either of those team's rosters he would not have seen one second of playing time during the Finals--and that is why no one is beating down the doors to acquire Redick from Orlando.

If Redick plays in the summer league this year I expect him to have a few decent games that raise his boosters' hopes and then during the season he will be right back on the bench.

 
At Friday, July 11, 2008 2:54:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

That is also a good question.

Whether or not the first part of the draft (the top 10 picks) was weak is not relevant because Orlando could not have taken any of those players anyway (unless they packaged the 11th pick with other assets to move up). However, instead of taking Redick with the 11th pick the Magic could have chosen Thabo Sefolosha (13th), Ronnie Brewer (14th), Rajon Rondo (21st) or Jordan Farmar (26th), each of whom have already been rotation players on playoff teams. Sergio Rodriguez, the 27th pick by Phoenix who is now with Portland, is a young Spanish guard who some people expect to do big things, so the Magic could have traded down, got some other assets and still picked Rodriguez up.

In the second round, Daniel Gibson, Paul Millsap and Leon Powe are players who have become contributors to playoff teams.

I agree that right now the 2006 draft does not look very deep but I said at the time that taking Redick was a mistake. With Dwight Howard on the roster they don't figure to be in the lottery again soon and now they have guaranteed money locked up in a guy who can hardly get on the court, let alone help them win playoff series. Instead of being able to address other weaknesses or add depth, they still are drafting and signing shooting guards to fill the role that Redick was supposed to fill. The repercussions of that mistake have already hurt the Magic and will continue to do so until they not only find a suitable sg but also are able to get rid of him and fill that roster spot (and salary cap space) with someone who is productive.

 
At Friday, July 11, 2008 9:44:00 AM, Anonymous brandon hoffman said...

David:

To be fair, Redick hasn't been given an opportunity. So I think it's premature to say that Kerr is a better shooter than he is. We don't have anything to go by yet.

 
At Friday, July 11, 2008 2:17:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Brandon:

Orlando chose Redick with the 11th pick and the Magic have certainly given him many opportunities to prove that he is worthy of that selection; if he were not a lottery pick making guaranteed money they would have already cut him based on his meager production. You earn playing time in practice and by being productive when you get into games and Redick obviously has not earned much playing time despite the Magic having every reason to want him to succeed.

I say that Kerr is a better shooter based not solely on the numbers but just on watching both of them play. I like Kerr's balance, his release and his ability to hit big shots in the clutch. Redick is obviously a very good shooter (when wide open) too but I think that Kerr was a little bit better, in addition to being more well rounded as a player (as I detailed above).

 

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