A hard worker, a professional, a rapper.
Okay, maybe the last designation is a bit much (funny, nonetheless), but the first two labels are accurate descriptions of J.J. Redick, an individual for the Orlando Magic that has worked his tail off to be in the position that he is today.
Whether it's been on the practice court or in the weight room, Redick has paid his dues after the past couple of years. Although one looks at his fellow peers from the 2006 NBA Draft, players like Adam Morrison, Shelden Williams, Patrick O'Bryant, and a bevy of others who have struggled to receive playing time or remain in the league, Redick has remained relevant in the NBA and has become an integral role player on a championship-caliber team. It took a while, and general manager Otis Smith prescribed patience with Redick - who was frustrated with a lack of playing time in the past - as he attempted to break into the Magic's rotation, but here he is. Helping Orlando win.
When looking at the statistics, one has to be impressed with how efficient Redick has performed on offense so far this season - TS% (60.5%), eFG% (56.6%), and an Offensive Rating of 123. All career-highs and excellent numbers. Granted, it's early but it's encouraging for Redick to see the stats one figured he would be producing when he left Duke University (likewise, it seemed possible he had the potential to do so this year).
Because he is contributing on defense, diversifying his game on offense, passing the ball without turning it over, and more, Redick has turned into an asset for the Magic. More importantly, he's gained head coach Stan Van Gundy's trust over a period of time (see the 2009 NBA Playoffs).
The following transcript is a one-on-one conversation I had with J.J. Redick after practice was over yesterday, in which I asked him seven questions on a number of topics.
Click after the jump.
You're averaging career-highs across the board, how much does that mean to you to know that the hard work you've been putting in these past few years is paying off?
It feels good to be in the rotation. I think that's the most important thing for me is playing every night, doing my job contributing, whether I play 10 minutes or 30 minutes and I think I've done that just about every game. It's been a positive. I can't get too caught up in numbers, I mean, we're 18 games into the year so I'm not really worried about that but if anything, I look at shooting percentages. I don't care about points or anything. That's going to fluctuate throughout the season, that's just depends on minutes so if I'm shooting the ball well and contributing defensively and with passing and stuff, then I feel good about my game.
Have you seen a difference in terms of how defenders are guarding you? I know that you're taking it off the dribble more this year and trying to attack the basket, have you see a change in terms of how they're trying to approach you?
It's different every night. A lot of it has to do with just other team's schemes. I mean, a lot of stuff that I'm getting now is with pick and rolls and stuff and so every team is different, some teams show, some teams zone, some teams push the ball down the baseline. We generally talk about it before the game, what that team is going to do and then I know how to attack. If I'm in the game with Vince [Carter], obviously I'm not afforded as many opportunities, but when he's out of the game, lately I've been getting a lot of pick and rolls and even some plays called for me so I just look to be really aggressive. Going in, I have a good idea, a good sense of how I'm going to play.
When you go into the game, is there a role that you're trying to fulfill? Are you trying to score, trying to defend, trying to move the ball?
I'm trying to win. *laughs*
That's the most important thing to me. I really do think that ... actually, me and my dad were having a conversation last night, he's in town, and we were talking about different guys in the league, guys I've played with in the past, guys I've played with in college. I turned to him and said, 'Dad, do you know what's the hardest thing to do in the NBA is?' and he said, 'What?' and I said, 'Win.'
You can play for a bad team, you can score and put up numbers. It's hard to be on a good team because there's not many of them that win consistently. I think that's what I'm most proud of, that's what I try to do. I look at my plus/minus every night and I want it to be in the positives. I know that Stan [Van Gundy] looks at that, too. It's not the tell-all obviously because it depends on who you're playing against and who you're out there with, but I want my unit, whether I'm playing with [Marcin Gortat] and [Jason Williams] and Ryan Anderson or whether I'm playing with Rashard [Lewis] and Vince, I want that unit to win when I'm out there.
You talk about the numbers and I know that Stan is big with that. Does he try to give, whether it's Dwight [Howard], or you, or anybody else the numbers and tell you what you've been doing, what you can improve on, and such?
Yeah, in the past, yeah, we've discussed it. Two of our biggest focuses are always rebounding and turnovers. He kind of sets goals for everybody based on turnovers per minute, rebounds per minute, a lot of it depends on how much you have the ball in your hands, how much you play, and throughout the year he brings up those numbers in team meetings and yeah, we want to reach those goals.
You talk about winning, you've dealt with injuries, illnesses, suspensions, fines, pretty much everything you can think of. How much does it say to you about the team that you're 14-4, despite all that?
Well, I like our group. I think good teams become an extension of their coach and I think we've become a resilient group. I think Stan is still pleading with us to have more focus and more energy, which I think on a nightly basis we can improve on, regardless of who's in the lineup.
You got the rap group going, you won the Iron Magic belt, how much fun are you having this year?
Yeah, it's been good. I think this is my fourth year with the team and I'm a little bit older now, I've settled down a bit, I'm more comfortable with myself, so all the other stuff is just fun but I think with the conversations I've had with Otis [Smith], Stan, and even with a lot of my Duke coaches the past couple summers, it's just about being a professional, and being a pro, and coming to work every day. It's something I've learned to do.
On the road, is there anything that you guys do aside from basketball, that you try to do as a team?
Well, I think everybody is different and I think everybody has a routine. You got to respect guys' routine. I think if anybody said 'we're having a team dinner,' there would be a mutiny. You got to respect guys' routine. I know for me, I'm a pretty low-key guy, so I order room service, sometimes I go to dinner alone. This year, I usually go to dinner with Ryan [Anderson] and J-Will, last year I went to dinner with Adonal [Foyle] if I did go with somebody.
Personally me, I wouldn't like it if we all 13 of us went out to dinner, it'd be a scene. I don't want a scene. *laughs*
I just want to go have a low-key [dinner], focus in on what I go to do the next day.