I wasn’t meant to like him. He is ostensibly a one-dimensional shooter. He played at Duke, and while I have enjoyed Duke players in the past, none of them have been white. He also bore the curse of being an effective, but absurdly over-hyped college player with in my learned estimation marginal pro prospects. He ended his college career against a long, athletic LSU team that harassed him into a dreadful shooting night and a towel full of tears on the Duke bench.
Oddly, it was on this night that seemingly vindicated my opinion of his pro prospects (great shooter that can’t get it done against NBA caliber athletes) that he earned my respect. He ran off screens, shot in tight spaces owning up to the responsibility of being his team’s only scoring option without whining for calls or giving into frustration. It was a proud showing. When Orlando drafted him a few montha later, I genuinely hoped he would find a niche.
It did not come quickly. I suspect Magic coach Stan Van Gundy felt like I did regarding his limitations. I went to a clinic where Van Gundy spoke in October. He spoke of the importance of charting wins and losses in practice. Coaches can have a tendency to go with their gut and sometimes lose sight of players that simply win. Van Gundy realized one of his players won more in practice than any other…..JJ Redick.
Redick became a regular rotation player for the Magic. He remains a great shooter, but his improvements as a ball handler, playmaker and defender make him a valuable asset in the league. Today he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks and leaves Orlando after seven years because the likely can’t afford him in free agency.
He will never live up to his mid-lottery draft status, but he has through his relentless work made himself a legitimate NBA player. Well done.