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Friday, July 13, 2007

Chronicles of Redick, Part II

J.J Redick averaged 6.0 ppg in 14.8 mpg last year in his rookie season with Orlando, shooting just .410 from the field. I have mentioned on several occasions, including the first edition of Chronicles of Redick (which can be found in this post), that I have serious doubts that Redick will ever be a significant contributor on a good NBA team. Yet, after watching some summer league games, David Thorpe has reaffirmed his opinion that Redick could "become a starter for a playoff team."

Thorpe cites Redick's "incredible confidence as a shot-maker and the ability to draw fouls" as reasons that he can be a significant contributor on offense. He dismisses suggestions that Redick is a liability at the other end of the court: "Redick is very competitive, locking in on defense and showing a willingness to fight on each possession." Thorpe adds, "Though he is known for his deft shooting and overall scoring ability, I think leadership is Redick's biggest strength" and concludes with the aforementioned notion about Redick starting for a playoff team.

Thorpe acknowledges that NBA executives and scouts were very much divided in their perceptions of Redick prior to last year's draft and I can confirm that based on conversations that I had last spring with several people who are "in the know." Redick was hampered in 2006-07 by a back injury and that is the thin reed that his advocates are grasping now to explain his very pedestrian production, even though his April statistics (6.3 ppg, .433 field goal shooting) were basically the same as the numbers he put up earlier when he was getting back in shape and adjusting to the NBA game. In any case, by all accounts Redick is healthy now, so let's take a closer look at the summer league games that have so impressed Thorpe.

After three games in the Pepsi Pro Summer League--which is being held in Orlando and includes teams from Charlotte, Chicago, Indiana, Miami, New Jersey and Orlando--Redick ranks first in scoring (23.7 ppg). That sounds good, but look at the next five players on the list: Marcus Williams (NJ; 19.3 ppg), Kareem Rush (Ind; 18.0 ppg), Tyrus Thomas (Chi; 16.0 ppg), Chris Quinn (Mia; 15.7 ppg) and Stephen Graham (Ind; 15.7 ppg). The race for the Pepsi League scoring title lacks a little star power, to say the least. Thorpe raves about Redick's first game, a 30 point effort on 7-18 field goal shooting (.389). Redick did not attempt more than 11 shots in a game all season for two very good reasons: he has trouble getting his shot off against good NBA defenders and he has trouble making shots that are contested by good NBA defenders. Thorpe raves about how productive Redick has been in the Pepsi League despite the whole defense being geared to stop him but shooting 7-18 against fringe NBA players hardly proves that Redick can get off 18 quality shots--let alone shoot a decent percentage--against good NBA players. Redick did shoot 14-26 (.538) in his next two Pepsi League games but I fail to understand why the 7-18 night so excites Thorpe.

Redick's 30 point performance came in an 85-74 win over a Nets squad that started Robert Hite at shooting guard and Marcus Williams at point guard. Hassan Adams, Josh Davis and Sean Williams started in the frontcourt for New Jersey. Considering that Redick's regular season single game scoring high was 16 points, one 30 point game--and a poor shooting one at that--against that crew hardly changes my opinion of Redick's prospects. Thorpe asserts that Redick is good at drawing fouls--he shot 12-12 from the free throw line versus New Jersey--but there is a difference between drawing fouls in the Pepsi League and drawing fouls in the NBA; Redick attempted just 60 free throws in 623 minutes as a rookie. For comparison's sake, consider that elite shooting guards like Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade attempt more than twice as many free throw attempts per minute as Redick.

Redick scored 17 points on 5-12 field goal shooting in his second game, an 88-65 rout of the Indiana Pacers, who started Anthony Myles and Shawne Williams at guard and Andre Owens, Rashad Anderson and Stephen Graham in the frontcourt. In his third contest, a 95-77 loss to Charlotte, Redick scored 24 points on 9-14 shooting. Orlando trailed 29-15 in the first quarter and 51-37 at the half, so it is fair to suggest that many of Redick's points came in garbage time.

Redick has several things going in his favor this season: (1) the departure of Grant Hill gives him an opportunity to fight for more playing time; (2) new coach Stan Van Gundy appears to view Redick's game more favorably than previous coach Brian Hill did; (3) Redick is healthy; (4) players often make big improvements between their first and second seasons. If Redick is going to indeed become a significant member of Orlando's rotation--and not just practice fodder--then 2007-08 is the time for him to make his move. Redick will always have the ability to knock down open jumpers but I am still extremely skeptical that he can perform well enough in other areas to justify putting him on the court for 25-30 mpg. I certainly would need to see more than three decent performances against inferior competition to change my mind about that. It is true that some upcoming players made their names in summer league play but don't forget that guys like Sebastian Telfair and Luke Jackson have been summer league All-Stars too.

posted by David Friedman @ 1:20 AM



At Friday, July 13, 2007 3:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

another duke dissapointment everybody said it already. last season he's going to have a hard time geting off shots, he is the ultimate doubles screen guy. you have to give him 2 screens so he could get a wideopen shot. if he could get a wide open shot hecould shoot it no doubt, but orlando has too play to his strengths. and give him the playing time he needs to be effective

At Friday, July 13, 2007 3:44:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Surprisingly, there are still a number of people--including Thorpe apparently--who believe that Redick will be a productive pro. Orlando drafted him way too high considering his limited skill set. He is not an important enough player for Orlando to "play to his strengths." Orlando needs to play to Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis' strengths and Redick needs to prove that his defense and other parts of his game are solid enough to warrant playing him for extended minutes.

At Friday, July 13, 2007 10:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

you and others were right who said he probably wont be a productive pro. he is a guy who has 2 come off too screens too shoot wide open shots. dwight howard and lewis will get doubled as well and that should give him good shots too. he just has too knock them down.

At Wednesday, July 18, 2007 12:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dave,

This is Eric from the "Y" and other places that we've mutually been. I don't have a Google Account. SO I am writing anonymously.

I get sick and tired of the Duke disappointment references. Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand, and Grant Hill have either left a very positive mark on the NBA or are in the process of doing so. Also, Corey Maggette isn't half bad either.

Perhaps people should judge each Duke basketball product individually rather than these absurd generalizations. How many "experts" truly believed that J.J. Redick was going to be a force in the NBA? Certainly, Carlos Boozer and Elton Brand have exceeded many peoples expectations in the NBA. Stop with the Duke-bashing!

At Wednesday, July 18, 2007 5:25:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I didn't reference Duke at all in my post, so I assume that you are referring to the first comment after the post.

A fair number of "experts" did believe/do believe that Redick can be a productive NBA player, including the aforementioned Thorpe, who ESPN apparently considers to be an expert (though his background seems to involve training athletes, not evaluating them). Orlando thought highly enough of Redick to make him a lottery pick and lottery picks are certainly expected to be productive. The one thing that Thorpe said that is right on the money is that pre-draft opinion regarding Redick was very divided, more than so than one usually finds for a potential lottery pick. I personally spoke to some NBA talent evaluators who expected Redick to do very well and some who agreed with my impression that he would struggle mightily (I asked their opinions before giving mine or "leading" them one way or the other). It seems odd to me that Thorpe or anybody else could watch Redick in three summer league games --which is all that Thorpe saw before he wrote his glowing article--and then determine that Redick can not only be productive in the regular season but that he could start for a playoff team. There are 16 playoff teams, so that would suggest that Redick could be one of the 32 best guards in the league at some point (or top 40 if one says that a few starting guards for non-playoff teams are better than the starters on playoff teams). In a few years, it will be clear to everyone that this Thorpe article is one of the more ridiculous pieces of basketball "analysis" ever published. The only way that Redick will start for a playoff team is if a team that he is on makes the playoffs and then their top guards get hurt during the playoffs.


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