Here is what I said about Redick in my playoff difference maker column.
Another year, another Magic guard has a chance to make a name for himself.
Over the years, a lot of shots have been taken at J.J. Redick. He’s been called a college shooter without a shot to play in the NBA, he’s been bashed for coming out of Duke, and he’s been made into the poster boy for any white player in college that shoots well from deep.
None of those jokes have merit any longer. Redick has quietly matured into a good NBA player. That’s right, the same guy who went from biggest star in college basketball and 11th overall pick to sparsely used reserve in the blink of an eye has made himself into a solid player in this league. He’s done it with hard work and a desire to be somebody in this league.
I was pretty surprised to hear during a recent ABC telecast that when the Orlando Magic do their conditioning drills every pre-season, Redick comes out on top. I’ve never thought of Redick as a superior athlete and neither have you, which is why it was pretty shocking to hear. But then, if you think about it, Redick comes out as the top conditioned athlete on a team that has one of the most athletic big men in the history of the game in Dwight Howard. How he manages to outdo Dwight in conditioning drills is beyond me, but that has to be a testament to Redick’s work ethic and natural abilities.
J.J. has improved in every facet of the game over the past three seasons. With each passing year, Redick has gotten more minutes and he continues to take advantage of them. This season has been a coming out party of sorts for Redick. He’s played 1769 minutes this season compared to 2099 in his previous three, taken 541 shots compared to 599 before this year begin, and finally looks like the three-point gunner we saw at Duke, making him a perfect fit for a Magic team that thrives off the three ball when the opposition double teams Howard.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that Redick would start to see increased minutes in the same season that the Magic shored up the starting position with the acquisition of Vince Carter, but he’s been able to win over Stan Van Gundy with strong performances in practice and winning attitude. J.J. is hitting on 40% of his three’s this season, making him the 17th best three-point shooter in the league, and has looked much better when attacking the basket then I have ever seen him. He’s a sneaky athlete and he is finishing 61% of his looks at the rim on the year with more attempts.
Redick is also becoming somewhat of a playmaker for the Magic. He has handled the ball in some pick and roll situations throughout the year, but even with things as simple as making the extra pass, J.J. has showed some real improvements. Redick is averaging 1.8 assists per game in 22 minutes a game, with the majority of his helpers coming on three’s. He’s picking his spots from deep and is doing a great job of rotating the ball on the perimeter.
There’s no doubting Redick has some size issues on the defensive end. He’s a two guard with question, possessing one of the best shooting strokes in all of basketball, but isn’t adept to handling the point, which means he has to match-up against opposing shooting guards despite being just six-foot-four. The good news for him is that with Pietrus and now Matt Barnes, he’ll likely draw Delonte West or Mike Bibby when he comes in off the bench.
The addition of Carter should have made Redick less and less relevant. It should have pushed him out of the rotation. But it didn’t. Redick has fine tuned his game, worked his butt off and is now playing consistently well for the second best team in the NBA. He’ll have a chance to shine this post season. Even though Carter is there, I think Redick will make a difference at some point. He deserves it.
Looking back, there are quite a few things in there that have come to fruition. Redick has been playing the best ball of any Magic player in the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston, putting up an average of 1.27 points per possession in five games. He’s ran the pick and roll beautifully, getting open looks for himself, which he expertly knocks down, and looks for his teammates. He’s been able to stick on Ray Allen, running through screens better than Matt Barnes can dream of, mostly because that’s what is exactly how he got open in college. He’s been going after every single lose ball in the arena, fighting, scrapping for everything in order to get his team points.
The turnovers are there, the bad passes, the shots that don’t go down. But the effort he has put in cannot be questioned, and his determination and will are a big reason why the Magic still believe in themselves and are now just one road win and one home win away from making history.
In these five games, Redick is averaging 12 points, two rebounds, two assists (to two turnovers) in 27 minutes a game, which is a five minute upgrade from the regular season. And I still don’t think is enough. J.J.’s most talked about attribute is obviously his shooting. Redick has shot 46% from the field, 56% from three and 96% from the free throw stripe in this series. Just silly.
Compare those numbers, which belong to a four-year veteran out of Duke that is making $2.8 million this season and will be a free agent this summer, to the stats a 11-year veteran out of North Carolina that’s making $16 million this year and will be receiving an even bigger paycheck next season has put up. You know who I’m talking about. Vince Carter. Carter has been a no-show in this series, shooting the Magic out of more possessions than Rafer Alston did last season. That’s right, Rafer Alston played better in the playoffs last season than Carter is right now.
In 32 minutes a contest, way too many for my taste, Carter is averaging 13 points on 13 shots a game with 36% shooting from the floor, 20% shooting from three, two assists and two turnovers. So, not only is Carter being outplayed by his back-up, Redick, despite less minutes and less shot attempts for the Dukie, Vince’s production is significantly worse than that of Hedo Turkoglu’s last season versus Boston. I think the comparison is warranted considering Vince and his humongous contract left Orlando no choice but to let Hedo go. Hedo averaged 16 points on 46% shooting from the floor and 38% shooting from three with five assists per game. Big difference.
Thankfully for Orlando fans, Redick is acting as their savior to an extent. His play, along with the rebirth of Dwight Howard as a rather angry fellow, has lifted the Magic from a unconquerable 3-0 hole into a surmountable 3-2 deficit with all of the momentum going their way. It’ll be interesting to see how Boston comes out in Game 6 because we already know Magic will show up. Because, as crazy as it seems, Redick won’t go down without a fight.