(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J.J. Redick became a fixture in the Orlando Magic's rotation in 2009/10, appearing in all 82 games an averaging career-bests in scoring (9.6 points per game) and three-point shooting (40.5 percent). That performance, along with his development as a defender and passer, helped him earn a front-loaded offer sheet with the Chicago Bulls, who envisioned him as their starting two-guard.
The Magic matched the offer, despite already employing highly paid starter Vince Carter at the time. The call was an easy one at the time, and Redick showed why that was so in 2010/11. No, he didn't put up eye-popping stats or reach new heights, but he played consistently well enough to earn 25.6 minutes per game, the most of his career, as he continued to earn the trust of Stan Van Gundy and his teammates. Redick's most recent campaign illustrates that there's something to be said for unspectacular reliability.
|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-high statistics highlighted in gold; career-worst statistics highlighted in silver.
Due to his notoriety at the reviled Duke University, casual hoops fans love to harp on Redick for what he can't do, as evidenced by the fact that he's among the Magic's most heavily booed players on the road. If those folks could set aside their distaste for his alma mater for a moment, they'd see a sound player who gives a great effort and contributes on a nightly basis. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any team that doesn't have room for Redick in its rotation.
Of course Redick is a gifted scorer, which is one of the reasons Orlando made him the 11th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. Over the last three seasons, he's worked hard to diversify his offensive game, and as a result has become more than simply a standstill shooter. He can attack off the dribble and read a defense reasonably well for a two-guard, which are valuable skills for someone whom defenses usually attempt to run off the three-point line.
Also valuable? What Jay Bilas might call his "motor." He doesn't play at a fast pace by any means, but Redick nonetheless brings good energy. He's also smart enough to avoid mistakes, as he rarely turns the ball over on offense. At the other end, he doesn't often get caught out of position. Taller guards feast on him, but at 6-foot-4, there's not a lot he can do other than bust his tail. Which he does.
Redick didn't take many steps forward this season; he played more minutes than ever before, which explains his per-game statistical bumps, but overall it's fairly safe to say Redick is nearly a finished product. He doesn't rebound, like, at all, nor does he have the passing skills needed to run point guard (he's a great secondary distributor, though), and he can get worked defensively. These are his limitations. Thankfully for Orlando, he plays within them.
Unfortunately, Redick didn't contribute much of anything after the All-Star Break, making just eight appearances between February 23rd and the start of the playoffs. Had he not suffered a fluke abdominal injury during one shootaround--an injury for which he underwent surgery last week--the Magic's season may have gone a bit more smoothly. In his 17-game absence, Van Gundy stretched Jason Richardson's minutes at shooting guard, and began using point guard Gilbert Arenas more there as well. In turn, Chris Duhon, who'd been exiled to the end of the bench, got the call to play backup point guard. Richardson wore down as the season progressed, which is bad enough, but giving inefficient, inferior players Redick's minutes hurt the offense. He returned for the playoffs and wound up making one more three-pointer than I did, over six games, in the Magic's loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Simply put: had he not missed so much time, I'd have scored him closer to a B+ or A-, because it's hard to argue he could have or should have given the Magic more than he did when he was on the floor.