For years, J.J. Redick was known as just a shooter and for good reason. At Duke, Redick tortured opponents with his deadly marksmanship, setting an NCAA record for most three-point field goals made during his four-year tenure as a Blue Devil. When Redick took his talents to the NBA, he continued to show off his shooting prowess.
Then something funny happened. In between his rookie season with Brian Hill and his final season with Stan Van Gundy, the scouting report on Redick became outdated. “Redick the shooter” had evolved into “Redick the playmaker.”
In the early stages of his career in the league, Redick’s offense was generated mainly by him spotting up on the perimeter or coming off screens for catch-and-shoot opportunities. That’s how Redick made his living in his first few seasons with the Orlando Magic.
The problem was that Redick wasn’t really going anywhere in the NBA as strictly a shooter. Redick wasn’t getting much playing time under Hill and Van Gundy and people were openly wondering if he was going to go from being a lottery pick to a flameout. For Redick to survive, and ultimately thrive, in the NBA, he needed to expand his boundaries and become much more than just a shooter.
So Redick did.
Redick became well-versed in the art of the pick-and-roll, which fueled his breakout season in 2010. Redick began to understand the little nuances of NBA offenses — making dribble penetration a regular part of his offensive diet — and how they can be manipulated to his advantage. Redick showed remarkable improvement in his passing — he’s no Steve Nash, but watching Redick make pocket passes is a real treat.
In other words, Redick turned into a playmaker.
And this season for the Magic, under head coach Jacque Vaughn, Redick’s playmaking ability has been relied upon more than at any other point in his career. Case in point: Redick has the highest usage rate of his career right now (21.5 percent) and his assist numbers have gone way up compared to previous years — his assist percentage (25.8 percent) and assists per game (4.9) are both career-highs.
The following is a breakdown of Redick’s playmaking ability.
On this possession, Orlando runs a staggered 2/4 pick-and-roll with Redick, Arron Afflalo, and Andrew Nicholson.
The play starts with Afflalo making an entry pass to Nicholson near the top of the key. Afflalo runs to the other side of the court, then he and Nicholson set screens on Redick’s defender (Jared Dudley).
Redick receives the handoff pass from Nicholson and immediately makes a pocket pass. Nicholson catches the ball on the bounce and makes a righty hook in the paint.
On this particular play, Redick finds himself with the basketball in his hands and the shot clock winding down. Notice something different? Brook Lopez is guarding Redick on a switch.
Knowing that he has a mismatch on Lopez, Redick dribble penetrates and makes a dump-off pass to Nikola Vucevic for the dunk.
The key thing here is that Redick has shown the ability to make these types of plays on a consistent basis for a while now. The difference is that it’s happening with far more frequency this season compared to previous seasons.
When you think about it, it’s amazing to see how far Redick has come as a basketball player from his days at Duke to now. Redick’s career could have fallen by the wayside. Instead, Redick got better at his craft and is now an excellent sixth man as well as a player that’s coveted by practically every team in the league.