May 27, 2010
"J.J. Redick could use some action," Trey tells me.
Whoa-oh-oh! I feel like Orson Welles at the beginning of this commercial. Springing to life but with no words to match. J.J. Redick(notes)! He's a champagne from California. He's a mid-engine sports car made in Korea. He's a pop group from Sweden. He's inauthentic, but he works.
And he's been misunderstood, for too long.
It helps if you don't follow college basketball, which I don't. I understand that, to some, this is the entirety of his being, but I never had to see Redick take a charge in the ACC Tournament. I never had to watch him complain about a call against Chaminade (that's a real school, right?) on the first Thursday of the sweet 64 (or whatever they call it). By the time I got to Redick, his climb had been taken down a notch. Not all the way, but enough to employ.
And enough to accurately gauge his game.
He's got plenty of it, you know. And he's just about un-peg-o-ble, which is fine for the unencumbered. Not so great for those who had their minds made up during a senior season game against Maryland.
(Did he stay for his senior season? Does Duke play Maryland, regularly? Are they friendly? Do they slap fives?)
To me, the NBA guy, Orlando guard Redick showed up in 2006 as, well, some kind of guy that could shoot. And when you watch incessant amounts of NBA "action" night in and night out, you tend to gravitate toward the types that stick out. And the types that can shoot, stick out.
Thirty-nine percent from long range, after four years? And 42 percent overall? That's shooting?
It's good, yes, but it's not Steve Kerr-level. I grok. But have you seen this cat's stroke?
And, for those that are watching as much as I am, have you seen the sheer amount of properly stroked 24-foot kittens that spin in and out of the rim he's aiming at?
Believe me, I want nothing to do with asking for extended minutes from an extended Duke-y with an extended scruff on his chin. But to watch Redick, from 2006 onward, is to wonder what could have been. It's not that every one of Redick's bombs looks pure from the fingertips to the rim, it's that I can't remember the last time I saw as many spin-outs happen to one shooter. How many bad breaks, affixed to one bench-rider.
Honestly, I can't believe I'm going down this path, but Redick must have played puppy soccer in a former life, because in terms of pure stats, I can't recall another NBA player who just misses out as much as Redick. Nearly misses assists (the teammate misses the shot), and nearly misses buckets (good form, good stroke, good look ... in and out).
Redick hasn't been a world-beater in these playoffs. If anything, this has been the worst I've seen him play since last season, and I'm sure the per-minute noticin' Magic fans would agree with that sentiment. He's produced more turnovers than assists, he's missed quite a few good looks from both beyond the arc and within it, and he's broken his fair share of plays.
But he can play. He's not some per-minute wonder, built up on offensive rebounds and tip-dunks over bench types while averaging 6.7 fouls per 36 minutes. He's a legitimate contributor that plays more efficiently the more he's allowed to run the floor and lose the fear of falling short. Because Stan Van Gundy is in this guy's head, and J.J.'s the only player on this team that works this into a bad thing. SVG helps, for everyone but Redick.
So there I go, extolling his virtues. The most likely scenario? He signs for a bit too much this summer, and I look like a moron for pushing it. More shots go in and out. More contributions get lost, on a Tuesday night, when nobody's watching.
Maybe there is some sort of karmic, Duke-derived element working. Maybe he does deserve all these spin-outs. Maybe I'm just a bit off, just like the rotation on Redick's shots.
Well, I'm going down with you, J.J., even if the shots don't go down. We're four years apart, but I can't think of a single NBA player that my interests likely line up further away from, but I'm hanging in there with you, despite the history. Despite those Photoshopped red beer pong cups. Despite that thing on your chin.
J.J. Redick can play. He deserves my action, and yours, and Orlando's. I'm done now. A shower awaits.