Orlando Pinstriped Post Photo / Bruce Maddox
Don from the Lakers blog With-Malice is once again hosting Unsung Player Day, during which the blogosphere is to "recognize the guys who toil and work hard every day, for no recognition." My Orlando Magic submission might bend the rules a bit, because Don's guidelines say only to consider players who play fewer than 10 minutes per game. Despite the fact that he, at 22 minutes per game, more than doubles the upper threshold of eligible players, I couldn't ignore the Magic's J.J. Redick. Well, that, and the fact that no Magic player averages fewer than 13 minutes per game. That'd be Brandon Bass, by the way.
I've written before about how integral Redick is to this year's Magic team, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much. What I do want to mention again, though, is his efficient contributions on offense. He's posting a 60.6% True Shooting figure at the moment, which is sixth in the league among perimeter players averaging at least 20 minutes per game; only Mike Miller, Steve Nash, Corey Maggette, Paul Pierce, and Jared Dudley are better. On the whole, he produces 1.12 points per possession used, which ranks in the 98th percentile of all NBA players, according to Synergy Sports Technology.
And he's become a proficient playmaker, with a 2.3 Pure Point Rating which puts him on par with young point guards Tyreke Evans (2.2) Stephen Curry (2.4), Mario Chalmers (2.2), and George Hill (2.2). He's played in each of Orlando's games this year, and has even started 9 times as an injury replacement. He knows his role, delivers, and has earned coach Stan Van Gundy's trust.
But Redick's a guy who had a stellar college career and is thus a household name. How can he be unsung? I'm not sure many people realize just how much he's improved this year. He's assisted on just 62.9% of his field goals, including a remarkably low 50.9% at the rim, which means he's learned to create for himself off the dribble, something many NBA observers doubted he'd be able to do at this level, given his lack of size (6'04") as an NBA two-guard. Additionally, he's second on the Magic in foul-drawing rate; only Dwight Howard, whom many teams foul strategically, earns more trips to the foul line relative to his shot attempts.
In short, Redick's much more than a spot-up shooter or three-point specialist. He's refined his game and is playing a key role, backing up a potential Hall-of-Famer in Vince Carter, on a championship-caliber team. And if you didn't know that by now, well, now you do. Which is sort of the point of Unsung Player Day, I gather.