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Friday, July 13, 2007

ESPN on JJ Redick

ESPN - Scouting breakdown: Redick at summer league - NBA
(ESPN Insider) David Thorpe:

After a nondescript season slowed by injury and full of DNP-CDs, league opinion entering this year's Orlando summer league seemed to be more like 20/80 -- about one out of five believed he would eventually become a legitimate player.

Three games into summer league, Redick's doing everything he can to get that other 80 percent on his side.

Redick's strengths on this side of the ball are well-documented -- he's one of the purest shooters in college basketball history. But the knock on the former Duke star always has been that he might be too slow and small to get off his shot against quicker, taller NBA defenders.

While I agree that he isn't great at getting good shots off his own dribble drives and the triple-threat position, I believe that within a team concept he can be very effective using screens or attacking open spaces created by a good post scorer or another great shooter/slasher. In other words, being the second or third option can be a great role for him.

And Redick has two things going for him that allow him to be a go-to guy, at least on occasion -- incredible confidence as a shot-maker and the ability to draw fouls. Thus far in Orlando's summer league, he is showcasing both of those talents.

In the Magic's first three games, in an offense that is all about getting Redick involved, he has taken 44 shots from the field (and 24 from the charity stripe). The shots have come in a variety of ways, from transition layups to deep curls, and everything in between. In short, he looks like he did while dominating the ACC, brimming with confidence while constantly moving around screens in search of his quick and deadly jump shot. Few guys can make the deep 3 coming off of a pin down, but Redick is one of them.

He has shot 21-for-44 despite being the only real scoring threat on the team and facing a defense stacked to stop him.

Though he's not a great penetrator, his array of exaggerated shot fakes and his body control on dribble-drives allow him to create scoring space for himself. And when his defender gets slightly off-balance, Redick is terrific at creating the contact that compels the official to call the foul.

In his first game, he scored a cool 30 points on 18 field goal attempts (7-for-18), going 12-for-12 from the line. He showed a strong ability to create points out of tough situations, and hitting 4-of-6 from the 3-point line reminded everybody of his college days -- he should have many nights to come when his 3-point shooting will be the important story of a Magic victory.

Game 2 is when Redick displayed his excellent passing and overall unselfishness, recording six assists as the Pacers were quick to rotate to him. A few of his assists went to his backcourt mate, Kevin Kruger (undrafted rookie out of UNLV), who led the Magic in scoring with 18 points on the way to another easy Magic victory.

(Kruger, perhaps the biggest surprise in Orlando after two games, is the perfect complement to Redick's offensive game, a true point guard who always looks to get Redick the ball where he wants it, as opposed to where Redick is when the point guard can not get a shot off and is forced to pass. These two tough, feisty, and exceedingly smart guards have shredded their two opponents, perhaps giving new head coach Stan Van Gundy something to consider when devising his offensive strategies. Redick is clearly in his element when he is more of a focal point of the offense.)

Redick is moving well, suggesting that his back issues are dormant, if not eliminated altogether. He is not a fun guy to defend, in part due to his frenetic energy and also because his quick release forces defenders to close out on him in a hurry and a little out of control.

He is also showing a far better feel for passing than he is normally given credit for. He is making many "easy passes" -- passes to open guys that come in a natural flow of the offense instead of ball-beating and only passing when he can't get a shot.

Defense

Redick's small stature for his position causes him problems defending big shooting guards, while his relative lack of quickness puts him at an even greater disadvantage against ultra-quick guys.

But Redick is very competitive, locking in on defense and showing a willingness to fight on each possession. In the NBA regular season, that is more than half the battle. That he may need help in some situations only makes him like most other shooting guards -- who doesn't need help defending guys like Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, or Michael Redd? And against the more ordinary scorers, he'll be fine.

It is his off-the-ball defense that is perhaps more important anyway. With Van Gundy requiring a different defensive help rotation than Brian Hill did last season or Coach K did at Duke, Redick should be focused on learning his new positionings this week.

And it appears he is. Of the 90 players here this week, no guard has been more aware of his responsibilities on help defense than Redick. He is locked in, constantly moving slightly when he is in the helpside box, hoping to get the best possible help angles if a penetrating dribble or pass should occur.

Intangibles

Though he is known for his deft shooting and overall scoring ability, I think leadership is Redick's biggest strength. He has been the most vocal player in this summer league, not overly demonstrative but always talking positively to his teammates, offering "fives" whether they do well or not. He barks out orders when necessary, but always with the proper vocal tone and facial expression.

If leadership is "breathing spirit into the hearts and minds of others," Redick's leadership skills are evidenced by how well Orlando's players have played so far.

The buzz from former Redick naysayers here in Orlando has been "J.J. looks like he did at Duke." I would agree, though the chip on his shoulder from being so villainized in the ACC has disappeared.

He seems just as confident as in the past, but a little more relaxed as he sets out to prove he deserves a chance at being the starting shooting guard for a Magic team that will have at least two solid offensive options in Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis.

The idea of doubling on Howard, rotating quickly to an open Lewis, and leaving a confident Redick open in the corner has to be a concern for coaches from opposing teams who are developing strategies for the upcoming season. And Redick's willingness to invest in making a difference on defense should allow Van Gundy more flexibility in playing him.

For a young player trying to build a career, "crawling before walking" is the smart way to go. Redick is focused on playing well here in the summer league as a foundation for training camp in October.

I've always believed Redick could become a starter for a playoff team, and he appears to be moving along that path now.

David Thorpe is an NBA analyst for ESPN.com and the executive director of the Pro Training Center in Clearwater, Fla., where he works as a personal coach for Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat), Orien Greene (Indiana Pacers), Alexander Johnson (Memphis Grizzlies) and Kevin Martin (Sacramento Kings). You can e-mail him here.

19 Comments:

  • At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good piece on JJ,watching summer league play i would agree he's changing some peoples mind about his game. I hope JJ is the starter and trevor can remain in his back-up three role.

     
  • At 12:12 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Good piece on JJ,watching summer league play i would agree he's changing some peoples mind about his game. I hope JJ is the starter and trevor can remain in his back-up three role.

     
  • At 12:14 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    My bad,the first comment was mine also,i dont know why it posted anonymous.

     
  • At 12:25 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    J.J.'s starting at 2 depends a lot on his defense. With a PG that is average at defense - at best - we cannot afford a defensive liability at 2. Additionally, as it stands, the 3 spot is loaded considering Hedo is still here. If Trevor is kept at 3, either his or Hedo's minutes will be very limited.

     
  • At 2:55 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Redick will get some open shots whenever he plays because of the attention Dwight and Lewis will draw. My biggest concern with Redick starting is for him to get involved in the offense, not only does he have to be running off screens (the easy part), but our point guard has to be looking out to find him when he flashes open. Last season, Jameer probably did the worst job of anyone doing that. I really hope Stan Van Gundy can help Jameer out. We know he can score, but he just needs to learn to settle down, and run the offense. For that reason alone, I might prefer Ariza starting over Redick. Mainly because Ariza gets himself involved, he doesn't need anyone as much, he makes things happen on his own; and the same can't be said for J.J. I'm sure Stan will figure all of this out come training camp.

     
  • At 2:59 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Keith Bogans should also have a legit chance at earning the starting position; however, I really don't see that happening. I think Otis is "too high" on Redick and Ariza to keep them both out of the starting rotation.

    However, Keith should be able to play a role for this team like Bruce Bowen does for the Spurs. He's not as tall, but at the 2 position, he's a good defender, and can knock down the open shot.

     
  • At 3:23 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Ok,i have my reservations about JJ as a full time starter also defensively,but let me ask some questions. (1) Do you want individuals who play specific positions (Jameer,JJ,rashard,tony,dwight)or a collection of basketball players on the floor (Jameer,rashard,trevor,hedo,dwight)as starters that are interchangable? (2) If trevor was awarded a starting position,would he truely be a shooting guard when his statistics are gonna look more like small-forward numbers seeing as how he wont even attempt three pointers? In my opinion trevor will never be a two guard,he may be in the starting line-up but he wont be a two guard. If the starting line-up has trevor,rashard,and hedo in at the same time,then trevor isnt the shooting guard,the shooting guard will rotate between rashard and hedo who will both take shooting guard type shots which are shots from all over the floor which trevor cant and doesnt do. The guys doing summer league games spoke about JJ today and stated that he will only be in trouble defensively against the premier talents at shooting guard (carter,bryant,mcgrady)but should make it up on the offensive end if not trump their offensive outputs because he shoots three's so well and post ups against him will only get the opposing team 2pts. Plus if you put all three of our small forwards (rashard,trevor,hedo)in the starting line-up it just make our bench that much weaker,one of those three should be coming off the bench. A line-up of jameer,trevor,rashard,battie,dwight wont work,it's to much like last years offense,the only way this line-up works is if hedo is out there for battie which shortens our bench and i dont like that. My line-up would be Jameer,JJ,rashard,battie and dwight,thats my line-up and i sticking to it.

     
  • At 3:58 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    David Thorpe is considered to be an NBA insider with a good eye for talent.

    Everyone's comments seem to point to the same thing -- the roster and depth chart is far from complete. If this is pretty much the final roster, the SVG will have his work cut out putting together a rotation that takes advantage of the available talent.

    It also makes me wonder what the Magic have in mind regarding Nelson's extension this summer.

     
  • At 5:16 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Ariza doesn't shoot 3's, but Ariza can defend the 2 guards of this league better than anyone else on our team. He is 21. Last summer he developed a midrange jumper that he didn't have the year before. He still has time to add range on his jumper.

    There is a difference between Ariza and Hill. They are similar on the offense end, in the way they don't spread the offense much because of their lack of range. The difference is on the defensive end, where Ariza can defend the 2 guards of the league, and Grant Hill couldn't; well, at least not since the 90’s.

    When putting a starting lineup together, it's a tough call. I tend to pull a little from both areas. I don't like seeing players played out of position, unless it's beneficial. The examples, when Grant and Dooling played the 2 spot, it did NOTHING positive for the team on either end of the floor. An example of a positive could be if Rashard, at 6-10 played some power forward. If he had a smaller PF on him, he could take him down low. If he had a bigger guy guarding him, he could pull him away from the basketball, and use his quickness.

    As for the starting rotation, I just want to see a group of players on the floor that ALL compliment each other.

    Dwight and Lewis are the two main guys. The goal is to find 3 more who compliment them. J.J. fits the mold perfectly, but I worry about a backcourt of J.J. and Jameer. In all honesty, I'm kind of bothered that Otis is already talking about extending Jameers contract. I don't think he's proven himself enough. In my opinion, I still don't know if he's a starter. But I'm guessing I need to get past that since Otis seems to be very high on him.

    So let's see; if I had to pick today, it'd either be BIGs starting rotation of Nelson, Redick, Lewis, Battie, and Howard. However, if that is the case, we better hope to sign a big that can actually be counted on to come in and play, because Howard and Battie are the only 2 we have as of today. I also think Battie will slow our offense down, but I’ll get into that next.

    So I think I want to see something different, fun, and exciting. Stan wants to run, and Battie wouldn't benefit a running lineup in anyway what so ever. I'd like to see the Magic take the floor with a run and gun, scoring offense. Nelson, Redick, Turk, Lewis, and Howard… Our offense would cause problems for ever single team in the league. And I know, what about the defense? Well, I'm a believer that the best defense isn't played by individuals, but teams. There is no reason Stan shouldn't be able to get that group of players, with Howard anchoring it, to play a solid team defense.

    But in the end, I guess I'm just hoping Otis has one or two moves left this off season, but I'm doubting it for some reason; at least nothing significant.

     
  • At 5:20 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    In my opinion we only have two shooting guards,keith and JJ. If jj's not in the starting line-up then keith should be.

     
  • At 5:26 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Ariza himself might disagree with you...

    http://forums.floridatoday.com/viewtopic.php?t=41958&sid=2744794c2b51c9ed6a3adca1b08344ed

     
  • At 5:37 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Intro the only problem with that line-up is the fact that jameer isnt steve nash,if we had nash i'd say thats my line-up too. So with what we have if were gonna compete with the likes of detroit and cleveland we need battie in the line-up to guard their true power forwards who will abuse smaller players in the post,when the game gets going and matches sometimes get mixed up,you could have rashard or turk trying to guard wallace and webber or gooden and ilguaskas who all are 6ft10 and above,over time our players would wear down because we dont have the energizer bunny known as steve nash who just forces his team to run. Even if jameer wanted to be like that his body isnt built that way,we have alot of guys who are physically imposing we need to use our strength and be smart about running. If we were gonna use a small line-up i would favor playing rashard at the four,with jameer and keith in the backcourt,trevor at the three,and dwight to round out the line-up. To me thats a defensive small ball team that could play very well offensively.

     
  • At 5:48 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    I could care less what trevor thinks,he just wants to get on the floor so he'll say anything. But a two guard he isnt,if your gonna play in the back court you have to be able to do a few different things: (1) Handle the ball full court,trevor didnt show great open court ball handling,and often times looked clumsy until he gets into his jumping motion which then we all know he can explode to the rim. (2) Take jumpers off the dribble to punish the defense for trapping,any jumpshots trevor got and took last year were of the wide open sort just catch and shoot,because nobody guarded him most of the time on the perimeter. Intro as much as you hated grant,these are the two prime reasons he was in the game at the two and trevor wasnt because grant could do the things a backcourt player should be able to do.

     
  • At 6:01 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Why would we want to take away from his rebounding ability? He himself said that the two guard doesnt hit the glass as much,his comments just proved my point and convinced me without a shadow of a doubt that SVG should play trevor behind rashard at the 3 and hedo behind battie at the 4 giving us great depth.

     
  • At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    just to partially echo big figure's points: i think lewis/ariza is a wonderful combination at 3.

    unfortunately, battie/turk is a horrible 4 pairing. battie is a natural 4, but a back-up 4, and turk is ill-suited to play the 4 position. that said, i'd prefer to see hedo play out of position than lewis, because i don't want to lewis to stop doing the things he does well (shooting from outside, slashing from outside). lewis is much better at doing the things he does well than turk is doing the things he does well, so let's keep lewis at the 3.

    we will desperately need help at the 4, however. (1 and 2 are problems, too, but more manageable ones.)

     
  • At 9:00 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    First let me say that I completely understand and I might even agree with your player assessment.

    However, I probably think Trevor Ariza is a little more versatile than you.

    The funny thing is, that isn't what stood out to me in your comments. What stood out were you comments in regards to Detroit and Cleveland, where I pretty much disagree with you.

    First up Detroit; Webber might not even come back, and he pretty much proved to be worthless in the playoffs, he's on his last leg, literally. Then there is Sheed, who rarely posts up anymore. He does from time to time, but for the most part, he's a jump shooter. He'd pretty much rather chuck 3's than do anything down low on the offensive end. In the playoffs, their bigs were not our problem AT ALL. Their backcourt was the problem. RIP and Billups posted up more in the series than their big players did. I know that was the mismatch, but I just don't see them having too much of a low post scoring presence, at least not in their front court. For the most part, they are a jump shooting team. Now if you want to talk defense, they're pretty good.

    The same goes for Cleveland. They have an old man with Big Z who will score on a good night. Drew Gooden, but he doesn’t exactly play strong. He prefers to take his little jumper or use some quickness. And they have the kid who loves to flop, but he has no offensive game at all. The Cavs are a bad team in my view, and they have holes from top to bottom. They have Lebron James, and he is their difference maker. Of course they play in the East, and had the easiest trip to the Finals in the history of the NBA, but that's another story. Still, they’re not a team that has a low post scorer that I’m going to worry about much.

    There is only 1 team in the East I really fear in regards to abusing us down low, and that's the NY Knicks. Those two fat guys up there know how to score on the block, and always play well against us. We will struggle to hold them, especially if they stay away from the buffets.

    Another tough match up that comes to might is Chris Bosh, but he’s a tough match for anyone. But again, he’s not a power player. Lewis is around the same height, and I’d feel comfortable having him guard Bosh at times. But a guy like Bosh, you have to keep rotating fresh legs on him, to try and wear him down.

    Beyond that, there's not a lot of size in the East that scares me.

    And no, Shaq doesn’t count anymore in my book.

     
  • At 2:08 AM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    You guys make pretty good arguments for your opinions about who the starting 5 should be. No matter which starting lineup it's ultimately going to be, there's going to be some weaknesses there. Hopefully, the strengths will be more than enough to counteract the weaknesses. I have faith in Stan Van Gundy that he can decide the best starting lineup.

    That being said, I tend to side with Big Figure and his assessments on the players and what the starting lineup should be.

    I would prefer that Hedo comes of the bench... he could play the 3 or even the 4 or 2 and be "instant offense" off the bench. If Trevor starts developing his jump shot more, he (Trevor) can come in off the bench as a 2 as well as a 3. If Battie starts at the 4, we probably wouldn't be able to run as much if Hedo were starting, but we would probably be a little more solid defensively. Again, I think that SVG can sort out all the positives and negatives, and put in the most effective starting lineup and player rotation.

    Another thing that might complicate matters in a good way is the apparent outstanding play of PG Kevin Krueger so far in the summer league. He's a coach's son (Lon Krueger of UNLV) and is very solid fundamentally. As much as I think that Carlos Arroyo can be very useful as a PG off the bench, I believe his roster spot could be in danger because of Krueger and wouldn't be surprised to see Otis moving Arroyo sometime soon. I think Dooling is safe because he is a very good defender.

    And yes, that was a very nicely written piece on J.J.

     
  • At 1:57 PM, Blogger Brandon said…

    well obviously we'll be using trevor jj keith or keyon at SG but my main concern for us is our bigs..we need another big guy who can shoot a 15-18 ft jumper and that can rebound..with the limited amount money we have left to spend on somebody it seems like the best chance we have to get a player worthy of starting is by trading hedo..if he's gone then the big guy we get in return we'd be set..i'm sick of seeing battie start..he needs to come off the bench

     
  • At 6:51 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    There are many variables that go into determining a starting line-up that leaves no clear cut choice, at this time. I am comfortable with not second guessing Stan in assessing all pro and cons from close range on his way to determining what is best for the team. We certainly have a big hole on the front-line but a few options at the 2 spot. Carlos and and Hedo are the clear expendable players who need to be moved. We might have to rely on Bo again, at least for the short term. He, certainly is not as good as he was a few years back, but still his abundance of energy is contagious on the rest of the team evident when he was used last season, although sporadically. I am also hoping for a miracle in Garrity finding his shooting touch since he is not suffering from any particular injury.

     

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