Only team co-captains Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson have more tenure among current Orlando Magic players than J.J. Redick has. He's made his presence felt over the last four years, but broke out last season, establishing career-highs in scoring, rebounding, assists, and shooting efficiency. Indeed, he was the most efficient offensive player in the entire league last year, and although that standing is largely a function of his modest usage rate, it still attests to his value. Also? The fact that one year after a disastrous season in which he started the season as the first guard off the bench only to fall out of the rotation after two games, he became a highly sought after free agent, eventually securing a three-year deal worth $20.19 million, an above-average salary. Today, OPP looks back at his five best games as part of an occasional, retrospective series highlighting top Magic performances.
|Game No. 5: Nov. 1, 2009, at Toronto Raptors|
Redick didn't waste much time announcing himself as a legitimate contributor last season. Making an emergency start in place of Vince Carter, who missed the game due to a sprained right ankle suffered two nights earlier, Redick played a team-high 45 minutes. And, uh, produced a line that even a healthy Carter may not have been able to match: 27 points, five rebounds, and six assists to Redick, who mixed three-point bombing (five-of-eight from beyond the arc) with aggressive drives during which he looked to draw contact, or at least attention, for a kickout. And yeah, the Raptors scored 116 points, but that's not on Redick: their starting frontcourt poured in 80 of those points, so it wasn't like Redick was a liability at the other end.
|Game No. 4: May 14, 2009, vs. Boston Celtics|
Yeah, I know. Horrid raw stats for Redick, still acclimating himself to the Magic's starting lineup--in a playoff series, no less--after an errant Howard elbow sidelined Courtney Lee with a fractured sinus. Though Lee had returned to action prior to this game, coach Stan Van Gundy elected to keep Redick in the lineup for continuity's sake and, we believe, to sic Lee on Celtics waterbug reserve Eddie House. This game isn't here to note Redick's offense, or as a joke. In this series, Redick's task was to adhere himself to Boston's Ray Allen, a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the most dynamic scorers in the modern era. Though a role player with the Celtics, he's still lethal coming off screens and firing away from deep.
And on this night? Thanks partially to Redick's efforts, Allen shot only 2-of-11 from the floor for five points--reserve guard Stephon Marbury, who went scoreless in 8 minutes, was the only Celtic to score fewer points than Allen on this night--in a game in which his team sorely needed his offense. Redick and Lee didn't let Allen get anything easy. Orlando won this Eastern Conference Semifinals game with its defense, evened the series at three games apiece, and went on to take the series on the Celtics' home floor.
|Game No. 3: Dec. 21, 2009, vs. Utah Jazz|
This game provided another early-season indicator of Redick's improved skill, and provided promise for the rest of the year. What's particularly notable about Redick's evening is that he was more efficient than should be humanly possible, with a True Shooting mark of 92.9 percent. That's not a misprint. What holds this game back from ranking any higher is his lack of contributions in other areas. But honestly, his concentrated, potent scoring in this game is too great to overlook.
Eddy Rivera wrote this very worthwhile analysis of Redick's performance in this game here.
|Game No. 2: May 18, 2010, vs. Boston Celtics|
No, um, this game did not turn out the way Redick and the Magic had hoped. And it was Redick's curious decision to dribble the ball upcourt after securing a key rebound with six seconds to play, rather than to call timeout immediately, which cost the Magic the chance to inbound from their frontcourt to set up a tying three-pointer. And so, when the final horn sounded, the Magic had dropped into an 0-2 hole in the Eastern Conference Finals despite having homecourt advantage to enter the series.
But the Magic wouldn't be in position to tie the game at the end were it not for Redick's play earlier. He scored 9 points during a 16-2 Magic run to end the first quarter, giving them a one-point edge after 12 minutes. He pulled Orlando back into the game. It's truly a bummer that his lapse in judgment at the end is what we'll remember most about it.
|Game No. 1: March 28, 2010, vs. Denver Nuggets|
Like the Raptors game, here we see another instance of Redick filling in for Carter in a huge way. Carter did indeed start this one, but left after 1:25 upon spraining the big toe on his right foot. And so Redick played every single second the rest of the way, and put together an all-around tremendous performance, setting career-highs in rebounds and assists while scoring a point every two minutes.
As a bonus, Redick hit the biggest shot of the game: a pullup out of a pick-and-roll with Howard to give the Magic a seven-point lead with less than three minutes to play. The shot circled the rim six times before dropping, an outstanding shot in an outstanding game for a player who only recently managed to translate his outstanding collegiate performance to success at the pro level. Better late than never, I suppose.