Orlando Pinstriped Post Photo / Bruce Maddox
In an Orlando Magic season which featured uneven or unimpressive performances from All-Stars Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and Vince Carter, J.J. Redick's development into one of the league's most reliable reserves came as a welcome surprise, but it shouldn't have. Not to play the "I told you so" card, but I did mention in last season's Redick evaluation that he shoot a flukily low percentage on long two-pointers, which crippled his field goal percentage and confidence. But he showed in the playoffs that he developed as a playmaker and a defender, which was enough for me to believe that he would put it together this season. And, in putting it together, Redick wound up producing 1.12 points per possession this season, according to Synergy Sports Technlogy, the most efficient mark in the league of any player with at least 700 possessions. Redick's the sort of versatile, mid-usage, high-efficiency role player on whom any team can rely, and his performance this year no doubt earned him millions of dollars as he seeks a new contract this summer.
|Points Per Game||Rebounds Per Game||Assists per game|
|Points Per 36||Rebounds Per 36||Assists Per 36|
|PER||Rebound Rate||Assist Rate|
All statistics in this table from Redick's player page at basketball-reference. Career-best statistics highlighted in gold.
Coach Stan Van Gundy praised Redick profusely throughout this season for his reliability, dedication, and hard play. Redick shrugged off three mediocre seasons, continued to work on his game, and will now reap the rewards. The developments, specifically, include the ability to create for himself and for others on offense. Creating for himself? He was assisted on just 62.6% of his baskets this season, the lowest of his career, down from 73.3% last season. For others? A pure point rating of 2.34, the best of his career, blowing his prior record of 0.48 his rookie year out of the water. He's particularly proficient in the pick-and-roll, producing 0.993 points per possession (including passes) while turning the ball over just 11.2% of the time. In short, Redick has gone from a stand-still shooter to a reliable secondary ballhandler in just 4 seasons.
"Secondary" is key. He'll never develop into a point guard because, without a screen or two, he can't break defenses down off the dribble. Yet that might be the only hole in his perimeter game, for which he compensates by drawing fouls at the second-best rate of any Magic player. Dwight Howard laps the field in drawing fouls on 19.2% of his possessions--the difference between him and second-place Corey Maggette, 4.4% is equal to the difference between Maggette and 22nd-ranked Andre Bynum--yet that's due largely to opponent strategy. Howard gets to the line on accident, or, put another way, because other teams don't mind him there. Redick? He works himself to the line with aggressive drives to the hoop or effective shot-fakes. As one of the league's best shooters, defenders have to honor his shot. When he gives the fake, they're all too eager to bite on it, which helps him draw fouls on the perimeter. Getting to the line is an important tool for an offense, as the free throw scores efficiently without the clock moving, and it saddles the opposition with foul trouble. Redick aids that cause better than any Magic player except Howard who, as I said, leads the league. He's special.
Defensively? A lot of statements about his defense begin with words to the effect of, "He'll never be on the All-Defensive First Team, but..." which is more than fair to say. Redick's a victim of his own height, because at just 6'04" with average arms, he can't contest or close-out as effectively as most other guards; it's rather telling that he's recorded just 5 blocks in his whole career, which spans 3817 minutes over 222 games. Effort isn't the issue: this season, Synergy classified 66.4% of opponent's catch-and-shoot opportunities as "guarded," meaning Redick closed out almost two-thirds of the time. Yet it didn't matter, because in the same situations, they scored 1.045 points per shot. His height will forever make him a liability in these situations.
However, the success he's had against Boston's Ray Allen over the last two seasons proves that he knows his way around a screen. He rated "good" defending shooters off screens this year, surrendering 0.833 points per possession and fouling just 2.6% of the time.
In evaluating Redick yourself, ask this question: given his physical and athletic limitations, could you reasonably have expected Redick to do better this year, in any aspect of the game? The grade he earned from me should tell you the answer. And if this is as well as Redick ever plays, that's OK too. There are 30 teams in the league with room for him in their rotation. Nobody can, or will, turn down this sort of productivity. Expect the Magic to reward Redick's hard work with a long-term deal once free agency begins, and expect Redick to reward Orlando for its faith with similar efficiency over the life of that contract.