On a Clippers team whose season has seen Blake Griffin’s injured elbow, DeAndre Jordan’s ascension to king of the paint, and Steve Ballmer’s Energizer-Bunny demeanor, J.J. Redick has been the unsung post-all-star-break hero in Doc Rivers’s system.
“It feels like every year I’ve been in the league since, like, my second year … I’m (saying that) I’m playing the best I’ve ever played,” Redick said.
His statistics speak another story: Redick has already set a career high in points for a season (1,124), is shooting a career-high 47.7 percent from the floor (third among shooting guards), 51.8 percent on two-point field goals (second among shooting guards) and 43.5 percent from beyond the arc (third among shooting guards); he’s the only shooting guard in the top five of all three. When his field goal percentage is adjusted, taking into account the number of points generated per shot attempt, among shooting guards, he’s shooting 58.4 percent (first among shooting guards).
He’s on pace to be one of 17 players ever to total more than 2,100 minutes, shoot better than 43 percent from beyond the arc, 45 percent from the field and 88 percent from the free throw line in a season.
Redick is a knockdown shooter who struggled to find a niche when he played for Stan Van Gundy and Jacque Vaughn in Orlando. He had yet to complete a full season as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks when he was traded to the Clippers in a multiplayer, multi-team package. Now, he has certainly found a home in Los Angeles.
Despite battling injuries through most of last season, Redick has been healthy this season, having started 70 games for Rivers in 2014-15. With Jamal Crawford’s calf injury causing last year’s winner of the sixth man of the year to miss two-thirds of the team’s games since the all-star break, Redick has been tasked with more offensive autonomy. In the 25 games since the break, Redick has seen an increase in scoring (19.8 points per game compared with 14.6), a higher usage rate (22 percent compared with 20.2), a higher plus-minus (plus 13.5 compared with plus 11.3), a higher true shooting percentage (62.5 percent compared with 61.9) and a surge in minutes (35 minutes per game compared to 29.2). Those are gaudy figures, and it’s no surprise that the Clippers are one of the hottest teams in the league, having won eight of their last 10, while the team’s offensive efficiency rating usurped Golden State’s and is now ranked No. 1 in the league.
Redick is the marksman on a team that ranks third in three-point percentage (37.5), fifth in three-point attempts per game (26.8) and third in three-point field goals made per game (10). He’s third in catch-and-shoot points this season (551), trailing just Dirk Nowitzki and Kyle Korver in the metric.
Exactly 90 percent of his field goal attempts have been jump shots this season and he has netted 45.84 percent of them.
In many ways he’s the polar opposite of Crawford, who uses his ball-handling prowess to create space for shots; Redick makes a living darting around baseline double screens, and sidling the perimeter awaiting hand-offs. On hand-off possessions, Redick ranks in the league’s 76th percentile, scoring 1.02 points per possession.
His merit in Rivers’s system is glaring: Without him on the court, the team’s offensive rating drops from 116.2 to 106.9 and opponents’ offensive rating jumps from 104.2 to 107.7. This is likely because Crawford–who is a sieve on the defensive end–substituting in for him.
Redick’s talents never manifested in the NBA the way they did in college, but to be fair, that’s a pretty unreachable standard: He holds the top spot on Duke’s all-time leaderboard for career points, career three-point field goals, and probably most other offensive categories. But this season, Redick is averaging the most minutes played (30.9) in his career and has become the sharpshooter Rivers needed to stretch the perimeter, allowing Griffin and Jordan more space inside the restricted area. With Griffin back and Crawford reportedly ready to return in the next week, the Clippers look like they could be full strength come playoff time. With a new offensive weapon in Redick, who is getting more confident with each game, the Clippers are back in the hunt for a title.