J.J. Redick Key Stats
"He plays at a tempo and with an intensity. It forces the guy guarding him on the other team to meet that or get destroyed." — Doc Rivers to the OC Register (10/14/14)
If the Clippers were a car, Blake Griffin would be the engine, Chris Paul the transmission, DeAndre Jordan the chassis, and J.J. Redick the turbocharger*. Before last season, the Clippers had already built themselves a damn fine automobile, finishing back-to-back campaigns as the fourth most efficient offense in the league and improving from 105.2 points per 100 possessions to 107.7. Last season, boosted by Redick, some newfound Blake horsepower, and expert driving by Doc Rivers, the Clippers captured the NBA's offensive pole position, finishing first with a blistering 109.4 points per 100 possessions.
*Insert "Glen Davis is the trunk" joke here.
Jonathan Clay Redick (that's right — according to Wikipedia, he really should be J. Redick) missed all but 35 regular season games due to a litany of injuries, the most niggling of which was a bulging disc. He also broke his shooting hand and tore the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his wrist in a November win over Sacramento. Fortunately for the Clippers and fans, it was not an injury that appeared to hamper his shooting later in the season. Fortune it was because the Clippers appeared to be less potent offensively without their starting shooting guard. (SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT! SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT!) In J.J.'s 35 games, the Clippers burned their opponents for 110.5 points per 100 possessions. In 47 games without him, they managed 108.6, nearly 2 points fewer.
Born just 2 scant months before I was — I will now cry about how little I have accomplished in life — the 30-year-old Redick has the energy of a Kool-Aid-fueled toddler. To wit, NBA.com's SportVU tracking data of players who appeared in at least 30 games lists Redick as 10th highest in the NBA in distance traveled per 48 minutes and 8th highest in average rate of speed. Of the players who traveled further and faster, only Philadelphia whippet Michael Carter-Williams averaged more minutes per game. If one were to ask Redick about last season, he might likely channel his inner Forrest Gump and respond, "If I was going somewhere, I was RUNning."
Perhaps even more impressively, J.J. Redick expended energy while conserving his scoring efficiency, two actions with a seemingly inverse relationship. Redick's usage rate last season was the second highest of his career, eclipsed only by a 2007-2008 campaign in which he averaged only a tick more than 8 minutes per game. He made the most of the increased action, totaling the second highest true shooting percentage (TS%) and scoring rate per 40 minutes of his career. Take his play volume, mix in his efficiency, stir, and find his career high player efficiency rating (PER) of 16.64.
The J.J. as turbocharger analogy is apt only when considering the season as a whole. If you're familiar with a turbocharger, you'll know that it is generally designed to work only after the engine has built up some RPMs, or appropriately enough to our basketball discussion, momentum. Focus on any individual game and you'll see that Doc Rivers uses Redick early to give the Clippers momentum, to get the Clippers in motion. In this sense, he's really more like the ignition. (Not to be confused with the remix to "Ignition").
Redick is the mover in the Clippers' attacking scheme. He runs round and round the offensive zone, dragging tired and frustrated defenders behind him*, a sight I likened to a game of Duck, Duck, Goose. Redick uses screens like Apollo 13 used the moon, slingshotting around celestial bodies like Blake and DeAndre into open space. Pay close enough attention and you'll even see Redick wrap his arm around his screener's hip, leveraging his big man like a literal pivot, changing direction without sacrificing speed. And once Redick is in open space, he converts. Last year, according to SportVU, he shot 45.4% in catch and shoot situations, including 42.6% on catch and shoot 3-pointers, of which he took nearly two per game.
*It needs to be said over and over again: he broke poor James Harden's spirit.
Redick's movement unsticks the Clippers' offense by encouraging ball movement and drawing defenders away from the paint, where Blake makes his money. Of all players last season who averaged at least six 1st quarter minutes per game, only LeBron James managed a higher TS% than JJ's 66.6% — he tied Satan. Redick led the way early in games. Measured by offensive efficiency, no Clipper had a greater impact in the 1st and 2nd quarters — discounting the single game in which Maalik Wayns got some 1st quarter floor-time.
Prior to last year and J.J.'s addition, the Clippers often struggled to find this early game success. Vinny Del Negro — I just shuddered — resorted to the predictable force-feeding of Blake in the post against well-prepared defenses, or having Paul take dribble-handoffs from Blake near the 3-point wing, an otherwise effective strategy rendered less effective because defenses were happy to leave Blake twiddling his thumbs 22 feet from the basket.
Redick's early-game impact is clear when you dig into the NBA lineup data. The Clippers' primary starting five (Paul, Redick, Matt Barnes, Blake, and DeAndre) ranked 10th in 1st quarter offensive efficiency last year among all five-man lineups. That may not sound terribly impressive, but consider that many of the better groups weren't commonly-used lineups. Only three of those superior lineups remain intact (i.e. on the same team), and none of them are likely to be used as a starting lineup this season, at least not frequently.
Incredibly, all of this discussion of running and shooting belies J.J.'s steady transformation into a complete guard. His skill set is ideally suited for pairing with Paul's, not just because he can shoot, but also because he can create off-the-dribble secondary offense when his point guard has been stymied on the strong side of the zone. Redick's low assist totals are a product of his functional role serving next to the ball-dominant guard in today's game, not an indicator of his passing ability, or relative lack thereof. In particular, Redick excels in the weakside two-man game, where he has sufficient ball-handling chops to navigate the pick and roll and drop pocket passes to a big man. He can also shoot off the dribble, as his 43.2% field goal conversion rate on pull-up jumpers is just a hair's breadth short of Chris Paul's 43.3%.
J.J., forever a Dukie, is no turnstile on defense. Listed at 6'4" but with a short wingspan (6'3.25" according to the results from the 2006 NBA Draft Combine), Redick is smallish for a wing player. But he's feisty, he's competitive, and he was coached by Mike Krzyzewski, so he gives a damn. Plain old effort is a big chunk of the defense pie in the NBA. So are smarts, and Redick is disciplined enough to play within the team-wide defensive concepts. He's far from a stopper, but equally far from a sieve.
Last year, Doc Rivers gambled big on Redick by trading a young force of nature in Eric Bledsoe and awarding his new 2-guard with a 4-year contract for nearly $28 million before a game had even been played. Redick's abilities make for easy comparisons to a more accomplished Doc-coached player, Ray Allen. It may be unfair to ask J.J. to fill the shoes of a future Hall of Famer, at least until he makes a shot like this, but that doesn't diminish his impact to the Clippers.
It's Chris Paul's team, Blake Griffin's franchise, and DeAndre Jordan's defense. Now you know that it's J.J. Redick's offense to start.