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The case for J.J. Redick

“Hill would like to add a pure shooter to the roster to back up Ray Allen, though Hill and Sund admit that whoever is selected likely will have little impact on next season”.-Frank Hughes, Tacoma News Tribune

I had a conversation with Steve at the Sonic game the organization was kind enough to provide free tickets for, and the topic was Brandon Roy or J.J. Redick, which would be better for the Sonics in the draft. I initially felt that Roy would be a better pick, but after our discussion, and some time thinking it through, I have come full circle and believe that Redick would be the better pick for Seattle. For the record I want to state up front that I would in no way be unhappy if Roy were chosen. He is a fine all around guard, who is cerebral, a hard worker and a great basketball talent.

If you have ever watched J.J. Redick play, you immediately realize that he is a very skilled basketball player. When you watch him come off of a curl, or around a pick and elevate for the jumpshot, you will see textbook form, and the likely outcome of the cotton swishing in the bottom of the net. To me, the form is like watching Reggie Miller, Rip Hamilton or even Ray Allen. The technique is flawless. I was watching some streaming video clips of him the other day in preparation for this article, and I don’t believe I am overstating his form. He is the best pure shooter I have seen in quite awhile.

So if we agree that both Redick and Roy are great players, and that there is a need for a perimeter shooter (See Bob Hill’s comments in the first line) and a backup to Ray Allen, what are the reasons for Redick over Roy?

#1) He will probably be there. The two main NBA Draft sites on the internet (Draftexpress, and NBAdraft.net) both have Roy gone before Seattle’s likely pick at spot #10. The same goes for ESPN’s Chad Ford. Brandon Roy is moving up on the boards because of his all around game.

#2) Offensive talent. Roy and Redick are both talented offensive players, and worthy of first round selections, but if we are talking simply about offensive prowess, Redick is clearly on a different level. His 26.8 pts./ game, his .421% 3Fg percentage, and the fact that he is #1 in NCAA history with 457 career three pointers made, are a testament to his abilities. In contrast, while Brandon Roy has considerable offensive skills, at least one draft scout has expressed concerns about the consistency of Roy’s deep stroke.

#3) Redick’s game would be a great fit for Seattle’s style of play. Coming off of those curls, working off of those picks, shooting three pointers, and running are the stuff Redick’s game is made of. Imagine for a minute that Ray Allen gets injured next season, and is out for 40 games. Redick would be the better choice to fill the scoring vacuum that would be present without Ray on the court. Similarly, how many games did we see last year, where our team was up a few points, or at least competitive, and when Ray had to get a breather, the other team made it’s big move and the game was lost. There is a need for offensive firepower off of the bench. I could envision a scenario whereby instead of Ray coming out after 8 minutes in the first quarter, an alternative where Ray and Luke both come out, and in come Watson and J.J. Redick, which would make a very nice offense/defense backup backcourt. Those times when Coach Hill went with a 3 guard lineup could be changed slightly to include Redick instead of Luke. Imagine the run you could make with Watson, J.J., Ray, Rashard and say Wilcox. That is a lot of firepower.

#4) Redick is a hard worker. He averaged 37 minutes per game both this year and last, and yet never seemed to tire. The guy has a motor that won’t quit.

#5) Redick is mature, a four year starter, and not a project. He is not someone who will have to be stashed away in Europe for awhile, or drafted on potential (admittedly Brandon Roy is as well). This guy is ready to play now. A picture perfect jumpshot is a picture perfect jumphot in Durham or Seattle.

When Ray Allen comes out of the game (whether it be injury, or the Flu, or just to keep his minutes down on a nightly basis), the guy that would be better suited to step right in, and hit the same shots, off of the same plays, night in and night out would be J.J. Redick.

I must admit that I have both heard and read many knocks on Redick’s game, many of which seem ridiculous, but a few definitely have merit. In fairness I want to try and address as many of those as possible.

#1) He’s too short for a shooting guard in the NBA. It is true that 6’4”-195-200 lbs. is not prototypical size. The scouts love to see their SG’s in the 6’6”-6’7” range, like Allan Houston, Ray Allen or Rip Hamilton, but that is not to say that a 6’4” SG can’t be a great player. In fact, the talent pool for SG, at 6’4” or less is really pretty amazing when you start to do a little research. Allow me to give you a sample of some of the talented SG’s, who are Redick’s size or smaller, who are either still playing now, or who have played in this recent era (in no particular order): Jeff Hornacek, Rex Chapman, Byron Scott, Jeff Malone, Ricky Pierce, Voshon Lenard, Vernon Maxwell, Ronald Murray, Joe Dumars, Hersey Hawkins, Cuttino Mobley, Vinny DelNegro, John Paxson, Steve Kerr and Fred Hoiberg. If you include some of the guys, who are/were combo guards, you can add Dwayne Wade, Kirk Hinrich, Danny Ainge, Gilbert Arenas, Bobby Jackson, Antonio Daniels etc. By way of comparison, this argument about being an inch or two too short doesn’t square with history. If all of these mentioned players can get their shots off, why can’t J.J. Redick?

#2) He’s not athletic enough. This is in some ways related to number 1, suggesting that he won’t be able match up with the increased size/speed of the game at the next level. J.J. Redick may not have all of the athleticism of some of today’s great players like a Dwayne Wade or Kobe Bryant, but that certainly doesn’t mean he can’t be a successful 2 in the NBA. Does anybody really think that Jeff Hornacek was a physical specimen? I used to be amazed watching him when he was paired with Stockton on those great Jazz teams of the ‘90s. He was not the fastest; didn’t jump the highest (he was probably closer to the bottom of the talent pool for athleticism) but he was a tireless worker who knew how to create space and work the angles to get his shot off. He played 30+ minutes per game in 12 seasons in the NBA; he led the league in FT shooting and was #2 in 3ptFG% in 2000, an All-Star in 1992, and was #6 in the NBA in Total Shooting % in ’96 with 61.9%. I am not saying that Redick is the next Jeff Hornacek, but I am saying that he is no less athletic.

#3) He won’t be able to defend his position in the NBA. This is related to #1 and #2 above. It is true that Redick has not proven to be a great defender so far in his career; it is possible he may never be an adequate defender, but does that mean he can’t help a team? The next time you see Cuttino Mobley defend, can you please point it out? How about John Paxson? Those knees he was playing on in ’91-92 with the Bulls didn’t allow him to defend (as if he could have with better ones), yet they took home the trophy. I don’t remember Ricky Pierce playing much D, yet he was a two time 6th man of the year and helped his teams. Rip Hamilton is not much of a defender. There are plenty of 6’4” and under SG’s that did play defense (Hersey Hawkins and Joe Dumars come to mind), but there are plenty that have not. This doesn’t preclude them from helping their teams, and there’s no magical force preventing Redick from becoming an adequate defender with coaching and determination. He will undoubtedly have trouble guarding Kobe Bryant and Rip Hamilton, but who doesn’t? Will he be able to guard Cuttino Mobley? Probably as well as Cuttino guards him.

#4) Duke players often aren’t worthy of their draft position (that’s the nice way of saying they are busts in the NBA). This is the William Avery, Trajan Langdon, Christian Laettner argument. Well in fairness, there have been some great college player from the Duke system that flop in the NBA, but couldn’t you say the same for any college? If you want to point fingers at Avery, Langdon and Laettner then you have to account for Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand, Luol Deng, Mike Dunleavy, Chris Duhon, Grant Hill, Corey Maggette, and to a lesser degree Danny Ferry and Jay Williams.

#5) Redick is the 2nd coming of Steve Kerr or Eric Piatkowski or Fred Hoiberg. This was actually posted on this website by someone disparaging Redick. The implication is that all the guy will be able to do is shoot 3’s in the NBA, and little else. I just don’t see the comparison at all after having watched him. Redick has a very nice midrange shot, a shot in transition, great head fakes and ball fakes, and the little leg scissor kick to draw fouls. I am not suggesting that he will never get a shot blocked, or that his whole bag of tricks will instantly transition into the NBA without experience and refinement, but Redick is so much more talented than Kerr/Hoiberg/Piatkowski, that the comparison is laughable. Fred Hoiberg played 4 seasons at Iowa St. where he averaged 12.1, 11.6, 20.2, 19.9 pts./game. Nice numbers. Steve Kerr never averaged more than 14.4 pts/game in any season at Arizona. In Piatkowski’s 4 seasons at Nebraska, his averages were 10.9, 14.3, 16.7, and 21.5 pts/game; also a nice college career. However these numbers are much closer to Brandon Roy’s college numbers than Redick’s. Redick just averaged 26.8 for his senior season! Let us also note that Redick also took home both the Naismith award and the Wooden award, given annually to the most outstanding player in College basketball. They don’t give these out to just anyone. Some of the past winners include Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Michael Jordan, Chris Mullin, Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Antwain Jamison etc. etc. etc. Just so you know, I didn’t find Steve Kerr’s name on the list. Ditto with Hoiberg and Piatkowski. Redick is also the AP, ESPN, Sporting News (etc.) player of the year.

J.J. Redick is not the 2nd coming of Fred Hoiberg or Steve Kerr. In my mind, I see Reddick being a player more like Jeff Hornacek, or Rex Chapman, perhaps to a lesser extent, a Vinny Del Negro or Voshon Lenard. Whether J.J. hits the high side of the comparison or the low, didn’t all of these players have nice careers? Didn’t they help their teams? When we had Flip Murray in the lineup before the trades, and he was filling in for Ray, didn’t you just wish he would quit dribbling and sink the jumper; work hard without the ball to get himself open for the shot, and make it, instead of trying to dunk on a 7 footer?

I think Redick would be a great choice for Seattle and our style of play should they choose a 2 guard. Our roster is fairly full, and I see Damien Wilkins as a swingman who is a better backup for Rashard at the 3 than a backup for Ray at the two, because he is more of a slasher/midrange guy than a pure shooter. I don’t really think he qualifies as the outside shooter the team seems to be in search of. Redick is the pure shooter we need, and that Bob Hill suggests we need. As I stated earlier, I would not be unhappy if we selected Brandon Roy, but in all likelihood, he will not still be on the board when we are choosing.