After the Orlando Magic were able to snap a 4-game losing streak by defeating the Atlanta Hawks by the score of 113-81 on Saturday night, head coach Stan Van Gundy is considering moving Vince Carter to the bench so that he can become the team's sixth-man. The idea may seem odd, given that Carter - aside from a stint here and there as a reserve - has always been a starter in the NBA. But given that Carter has been mired in the worst shooting slump of his career, coupled with the fact that the Magic have struggled meshing its four All-Stars together in the starting lineup this season, Van Gundy is contemplating making a change. A change that may switch J.J. Redick's role from a reserve to a starter. If there's an opportunity to experiment with this type of move, the time is now.
As has been mentioned before, Redick has been having a career-year with Orlando. By now, everyone should be aware that Redick has been a very efficient offensive player this season. But people may not realize that Redick is helping the Magic out in other areas on offense, too, ranking fifth on the team in assist percentage (12.9%) and first in turnover percentage (8.1%). In essence, Redick has done a good job of passing and taking care of the basketball. Because of this, Redick has become a bit of a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball. Perhaps the most noticeable evolution in Redick's game on offense these past few years is his ability to create (and score) off the dribble. Redick can no longer be strictly considered a spot-up shooter, even though that's ultimately his forte, because he's not. Redick is more than that. Can't forget about the intangibles, either, as Redick has been one of the few individuals for Orlando to give a consistent effort nearly every game. That's important.
Likewise, Redick is no longer the defensive liability he used to be. This isn't to say that he's a great defender because he's not, and Redick admitted that to me after practice a while back, but he can hold his own.
With Carter, his time back in Florida has been up and down so far. Carter has had his moments in a Magic uniform, where he's hit clutch baskets and stepped up in the fourth quarter when the team needed him to. But for the most part, Carter hasn't produced anywhere near the level that many expected he would before the year started. To further complicate matters, it appears that Carter has had a tad bit of an adverse affect on the offensive side of the ball on the other All-Stars (Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson) on the roster. Not a dramatic one, but enough where things have been thrown off-kitler just a smidgen. The distribution on offense among the Orlando starters isn't as balanced as it was this past season when Hedo Turkoglu was around. The difference is that Carter has dominated the basketball (as he always has in his career) and players like Howard, Lewis, and Nelson haven't been able to adjust quickly enough. Which is why Van Gundy is trying to find the right combination that will achieve the proper balance for the Magic.
If there's good news, it's that Carter has been fine on defense.
So, is a Carter-for-Redick switcheroo the solution to Orlando's woes when its four All-Stars start together?
Click after the jump for the answer.
The issue isn't whether or not Redick is good enough to start, he is. The issue is whether or not Redick fits better with the starters than Carter.
As has been mentioned before, the crux of the problem with Carter starting - at this point - is that he's taking shots away from Howard, Nelson, and Lewis. Offensively, this wouldn't be a problem if Carter was producing in an efficient manner but he hasn't. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that efficient scorers like Howard, Lewis, and Nelson (when he's playing up to his standards) aren't getting the basketball enough, which is hurting the team's productivity on offense since less efficiency is being replaced with more inefficiency.
If Redick were to start, the issues on the offensive side of the ball probably won't exist. Redick's usage rate (17.4%) is considerably lower than Carter's (28.1%), which means that shots can be redistributed among Howard, Lewis, and Nelson. And as has been stated many times before, Redick is an efficient player so naturally the offense, as a whole, should become more efficient with his presence on the court. Also offensively, Redick doesn't need the ball in his hands like Carter, which allows Howard, Lewis, and Nelson more opportunities to be playmakers. To sum it up, the offense for Orlando could become a more balanced attack like it was last year if Redick starts.
As for Carter, he could be the playmaker off the bench if he were to become the Magic's sixth-man. Aside from Ryan Anderson (and Brandon Bass, to a lesser extent), there's no other reserve for Orlando that needs shots. As such, Carter can play like he normally does and if the second unit is in need of a go-to player while the starters are resting, he can fill that role. Carter can also, at times, feast on opposing second units. Never a bad thing.
Moving Carter to the bench wouldn't necessarily mean that Van Gundy is demoting him. More like reassigning him. More often than not, Carter is going to be finishing games for the Magic whether he is a starter or a reserve.
What might change is how the Orlando Magic get to the finish line.