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Evaluating J.J. Redick

This week, 3QC will take a look back on each Magic player's 2008/2009 season. Each day focuses on one position: Monday for point guards, Tuesday for shooting guards, Wednesday for small forwards, Thursday for power forwards, and Friday for centers. I'll evaluate each individual player at that position at regular intervals throughout the day, while Eddy will make a general survey of the position later in the afternoon.

J.J. Redick wraps up our review of the shooting guards, which began with Courtney Lee. Mickael Pietrus, who started for the Magic at shooting guard on opening night, wound up playing more minutes at small forward. He's first up tomorrow.

J.J. Redick
No. 7 Shooting Guard
Points Per Game Rebounds Per Game Assists Per Game
5.9 1.7 1.1
Points Per 36 Rebounds Per 36 Assists Per 36
12.3 3.5 2.4
PER Rebound Rate Assist Rate
9.8 5.5 10.3
FG% 3FG% FT%
38.8% 37.4% 87.1%
eFG% TS%
50.0% 55.9%

All statistics in this table from Redick's player page at basketball-reference. Career-best statistics highlighted in gold.

It's hard to get a read on J.J. Redick's NBA career, or this season. One of the greatest college players in history--or so I'm told--J.J. is still trying to find his way in the big leagues.

It is perhaps in that spirit that he tried to diversify his game in 2008/09, in a process that began over the summer. Extensive workouts and strength training at Duke helped him build muscle and gain speed. He's never going to be a phenomenal athlete, but he's at least improved his body a bit to compensate. The next step was to become more of a playmaker. Sure, he shoots jumpers 9 times out of 10, but when he did put the ball on the floor, he tried more conscientiously to create for his teammates. The results were mixed. On the one hand, he registered the best assist statistics of his career. On the other, he registered some bad turnover statistics relative to his role. Indeed we can attribute some of the miscues to his playing more minutes than ever before. But even that doesn't account for the percentage of his possessions that ended with a turnover--13.7. That's not great for a guy perhaps best suited to catch and shoot.

But he acquitted himself, mostly, in the playoffs. He nearly halved his turnover rate (7.3%), while raising his assist rate by almost one-third (15.4%). He took over Courtney Lee's starting role after Dwight Howard knocked Lee out of the lineup with an errant elbow. He started every game of the Magic's Conference Semifinal series against the Boston Celtics, in which he shot poorly, but also helped hold Ray Allen to 13.1 points per game--in 40.7 minutes!-- on 34.4% shooting. In the Conference Finals against Cleveland, he ceded his starting job to Lee, and tallied just 10 minutes in the entire 7-game series. For a guy jerked in and out of the rotation, Redick seemed remarkably poised, and was always prepared to take the floor when coach Stan Van Gundy called his number. That much is admirable.

But the main issue with J.J. is shooting. 37.4% from three-point range is solid, of course, but what's up with all the missed two-pointers? He connected on just 40.8% of his deuces, which might be an abberation. He got rejected at the rim more often--12% of his inside attempts wound up sent back--but that's not such a bad figure. My guess is that the low mark on two-pointers is a fluke--particularly on those long two-pointers, where he shot 24-of-73 (32.9%) this year after 13-of-30 (43.3%) a year ago and 31-of-71 (43.7%) as a rookie--and he'll go back to knocking 'em down next year. And if he can do that while maintaining the solid defense he played in the postseason, as well as his new playmaking skill? He might just turn into a pretty darn good backup shooting guard.

Until then, though, we have just this season, which one can charitably describe as mediocre, on our hands.

Grade: C