As he heads into his fourth professional season, J.J. Redick is, somewhat remarkably, the third-longest-tenured Orlando Magic player; when I informed him of this fact, he scratched his head and said, "I didn't know that. That's crazy." He's been with this team longer than the likes of Rashard Lewis, Adonal Foyle, and coach Stan Van Gundy, yet in spite of his averaging a career-high 17.4 minutes per game last season, he still does not have a defined role with the club. He made a name for himself collegiately as a scorer and prolific shooter, but his touch eluded him last season, registering career-lows from the field (38.8%) and from three-point range (37.4%). He summarized his offseason focus in this way:
The basis of everything I worked on was getting back to the fundamentals of shooting, and making shots.
After the jump, a transcript of select questions and answers from his media-day availability.
Q: What about this team this year?
Excited. On paper, we have a ton of talent. Obviously, you've gotta have chemistry and work, and some things gotta go your way, but on paper we have enough talent to go along way.
Q: When I say "Vince Carter," what do you say?
Amazing. Half-man, half-amazing? [Laughs]. He's awesome. He's an All-Star. We're obviously very excited to have him, and the things that he does on the basketball court is gonna help our team.
Q: Summertime 2009 in one word. How would you describe it?
At this point, Redick explained that he worked out 6 days a week this summer, instead of 5 days a week he had in previous summers. He noted that the Magic's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals contributed to his decision to increase his summer workload. A telling excerpt from his response:
Dwight [Howard] talks about it. We all talk about it. I couldn't get the image of Kobe [Bryant] and the Lakers celebrating out of my head all summer.
Nobody ever had any legitimate reason to doubt J.J.'s commitment to the Magic and to improving his game. The above quote should erase all doubt, in my opinion.
Q: A lotta new faces. Do you think this is a better team? Do you like the changes?
Um, you can't judge on paper. I think, talent-wise, and just from playin' the last couple months with these guys, yeah, I think we're more talented [....] We gotta put in the same amount of work... and actually, probably, more work, 'cause all the top teams got better this summer.
Q: Last summer, it seemed like you worked a lot on your body. This summer, was it more basketball stuff?
Yeah, I concentrated moreso last summer... a lot of this summer was just maintenance. I would say I'm in the same great shape that I was last summer [....] My concentration was moreso on basketball.
Q: J.J., what do you take out of last season? And what do you think you'd like to add to get better this year?
I think the improvement that I made was defensively. I mean, just bein' able to stay on the court. I figured out our system, and that's what helped me. Positioning, timing, and all that stuff [....]
The most disappointing part about last season is the way I shot the ball, which is kind of ironic. I feel like I can shoot it a lot better, so that's what I really concentrated on this summer. Just getting back to the basics, my footwork, my balance, my follow-through... a lot of repetition this summer.
(Permit me an aside, if you will. In a different scrum, J.J. mentioned that his trainer kept a running tally of every time Redick had improper follow-through on his shot. They made a deal that J.J. would pay him $1 for each instance of poor follow-through. At the end of the summer, Redick owed his trainer a whopping $4. That work paid off for Redick. His trainer? Not so much.)
Along the same lines, Eddy asked J.J. if he had any goals with regard to shooting percentages this season.
Q: I spoke to [scouting information manager] Charles Klask and he stated to me that you're a guy that's into the numbers. Do you have a set goal for some of your shooting percentages?
Me and Charles do talk about numbers. I think every year I go in and I say that I want to shoot 40% from three, 45% from the field, and 90% from the line when you talk about that. I think it's 170 or 180, if you add up all the totals, that's what you want to be at so you want a good shooting percentage. I hope last year was an anomaly. It's the first time in my competitive life that I've shot under 40% and I hope... I know I'm going to shoot better this year so we'll get all those percentages up.
And if those percentages improve, well, there's no reason to believe J.J. won't finally break through and become a regular rotation player.