COMMENTARY | After winning the first two games of the season, the Orlando Magic lost five consecutive games. They lost those games by an average of 15.6 points.
Despite the glum outcomes a former Magic first-round pick is stepping up and showing his value.
After years of being no more than a role player off the bench, J.J. Redick, drafted with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, looks like the team's best all-around player.
Throughout his career he has often been criticized by many analysts and basketball fans as a one-dimensional player; a guy that could only run around a screen, catch and shoot.
Sure, that may be when he is at his best, but watch the Magic play and you'll see a player that is taking advantage of the extra playing time and low expectations and doing a lot more than catching and shooting.
The biggest knock on Redick coming out of college was that he wasn't a good defender. While he may not be a lock-down perimeter defender like Thabo Sefolosha or Shane Battier, the Duke-product does have 0.7 steals per game, which is sixth on the team and a current career-high.
With Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu out with injuries there's opportunities for other players to step up and take care of the ball handling duties. He's not a typical point guard and he isn't running an offense like Steve Nash would, but Redick will bring the ball up the court and he looks comfortable doing so.
In addition to bringing the ball up the court and starting the offense around the perimeter, Redick has shown very good court vision. He is finding the open lanes and making very good passes into the paint, hitting the cutter or the open post-up player.
He leads all Magic players who have played more than one game this season in assists with 5.6 dimes per game. That total is currently a career-high, well over the 2.5 assists per game mark he set last season.
He's also become the team's best and most consistent offensive weapon.
He currently is third on the team in scoring, averaging 14.7 points per game, which would be another career-high. He's led the team in points twice this season.
Redick is fourth on the team in total field goal percentage (46.9 percent, a career-best) and has the best shooting percentage of players that have taken over 30 shots. He's third on the team in three-point shooting percentage (39.1 percent) and has made the most three-pointers on the team.
His scoring has come from more than just catch and shoots as well. Redick, much like the vision he shows in passing the ball, is doing a good job of finding the seams in the defense and cutting to the basket for lay-ups.
It's clear the Magic are rebuilding. There's a chance that Redick, in the last year of his contract, could be dealt before the trade deadline to a contender looking for a skilled role player. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel recently wrote that the six-year veteran is aware that a trade is a possibility.
But whether he is playing for a future with Orlando or with someone else, Redick is really taking advantage of the situation he and the rest of the Magic are in.
He is a leader on this young Orlando team and is making every effort to be involved in all facets of the game, not just as a three-point mercenary.
Redick is no longer a one-dimensional player.
Thanks to the level of his play in the early going of the 2012-13 season, he may no longer be a replaceable asset for a Magic team thinking about his long-term future in Orlando.
Phil Shore lives in New Jersey and is the creator and editor of Shore Thing Sports blog. He's been published in The Boston Globe, Philly.com, FoxSoccer.com, LaxMagazine.com and New England Lacrosse Journal.
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