Heading into the 2014 season, J.J. Redick has finally landed with a NBA contender that can maximize his lethal touch and initiate a Redick Renaissance all of his college fans have been eagerly awaiting for years.
Redick brought an energy to Duke that transcended college basketball. Fans would nudge non-fans and say, “Just watch that little white dude, he literally doesn’t miss.” The “literally” part would be a slight over-exaggeration, but it sure didn’t feel like it.
In college, Redick would zoom around screens, catch the ball several feet behind the three-point line, and launch shots with defenders desperately trying to lunge at him. And as we say on the playground, he was WET.
You didn’t need to be a basketball fan to enjoy the Redick show. Anyone can appreciate when one guy, who isn’t physically imposing, can dominate an athletically driven sport. Redick was the Robocop of the long-ball in college. Automatic. Half human, half machine. And arguably, the greatest shooter the college basketball world ever witnessed.
He became a polarizing figure in his Duke days with that tantalizingly silky-smooth jumper. Fans loved and loathed him but all agreed he was must-see TV. Redick never needed an Anthony Wiener sexting or Ryan Braun steroid/sociopathic-lying scandal to bolster his national profile. All he needed was the rock and a solid screen to dart around.
The NBA transition was expected to be difficult for Redick, and it was. At 6 ft 4 in and weighing in at under two-hundred pounds, he was hardly built to be a typical NBA shooting guard. As a shooter, you generally need to be tall enough to shoot over opponents or athletic enough to lose them in a slew of picks or off the dribble. Redick was a couple of inches too short, a step too slow, and could barely even dunk entering the league. He was also considered a defensive liability.
Redick was never considered soft though, as many pure shooters are. He had a hunger in him that was insatiable. Being the competitor that he is, his perseverance was just as predictable as his early struggles. Through his years in Orlando, he gradually began to get more minutes and responsibility and he kept on shooting without hesitation.
Redick took a page out of the Shane Battier playbook, put his ego and college stardom aside, and accepted his place as an NBA role player. Redick had been the centerpiece of the Duke offense (and the college basketball world), with plays designed for him and defensive scouting reports focused on stopping him.
Becoming a professional player with two simple jobs: 1) hit open shots when you have them 2) don’t be a liability of defense, must have been a difficult mental transition. Redick accepted his role in stride and obliged silently, like a real pro.
Last year, he got his scoring average to a career high 15.1 PPG before Orlando dealt him. Over the years, his numbers rose proportionally to his minutes. It became obvious that he could produce when given the chance and his biggest limitation was doubtful coaches.
It is time for the basketball world to brace for a resurrection, for the Redick Renaissance. The second half of his career will become his coronation as the greatest role-player shooter in NBA history. Yes, Steve Kerr, you heard me correctly, step aside. You too Tim Legler, Dennis Scott, and Hubert Davis.
Redick’s new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, is the perfect fit. With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin dominating the ball, attacking the paint, and drawing swarms of defenders, the Clippers desperately need someone to spot up around that magical arch and make help defenders pay. Somewhere Redick is salivating like MJ did when Craig Ehlo would say, “I got him!” (even if you don’t watch the whole clip, definitely skip ahead to the 3:20 mark, Jordan’s abuse of Ehlo over the years goes unrivaled)
Redick is only twenty-nine years old. Sure, that isn’t young in basketball years, but for a shooter (not reliant on athleticism and high-impact plays) averaging only 22.3 MPG so far in his career, ten more seasons is realistic. For example, Ray Allen is still balling at 38, largely because he accepted becoming a designated shooter in the second half of his career.
Doc Rivers helped Allen seamlessly transition into the role with the Celtics, as Rondo, Pierce, and Garnett dominated the ball. Rivers also had a plethora of plays designed to get Allen open in his sweet spots after he would juke through assembly lines of screens. The only men who could replicate what Allen does in that highlight would be A) Stephen Curry or B) Redick.
Rivers is the new coach of the Clippers and the man who acquired Redick. Doc knows that Redick doesn’t need or want to handle the ball. He just eats up open looks. Between Paul, Griffin, and Rivers’ plays, Redick should be expecting a feast.
Redick has a chance to become a major piece to a championship contending team in Los Angeles. This must be what he has wanted all along. All of those practice shots in empty gyms. All of those epic moments at Duke. All of those seasons in Orlando when he felt underutilized but sustained professionalism. All of it has led to this.
The real J.J. Redick story is about to finally start in the NBA. He has been waiting a long time for this and so have we, haters and lovers alike. And when that big moment arrives in the playoffs, when the Clippers desperately need a three, Clippers‘ fans, the opponents‘ fans, and everyone in between will point out Redick to people who couldn’t care less about the game and say, “See that little white dude? I bet you he drains a three.”
And it’ll be a damn good bet to make.
If you want to read more NBA stuff from Jenks…www.jenksijargon.