There has been much discussion about the trade that brought J.J. Redick in. Not only did Donald Sterling reject it at first, but the Clippers gave up rising-star Eric Bledsoe for Redick and Jared Dudley. Dudley no longer calls Los Angeles home, but Redick has earned himself high praise that many Clippers fans agree about, calling him the team's "most important starter."
The Big Three has evolved into a fearsome foursome. Since Redick's debut, the Clippers have scored 117.5 points-per-100-possessions with the sharpshooter on the floor--which is very good. Three games into the 2016 season, that number has skyrocketed to 141 points-per-100. Los Angeles utilizes the sharp-shooter in a plethora of ways. The full range of J.J.'s ability was on display in the victory against the Kings. This episode of Film Room analyzes the beauty of not just J.J.'s hair, but his game as well.
Last season, the former Duke Blue Devil ranked 11th in the NBA in first quarter scoring. J.J.'s involvement in the offense intrinsically correlates to team ball-movement. To nobody's surprise, the Clippers posted the best first-quarter plus/minus differential in the NBA last year. This season is no different.
In transition, every position runs a specific lane. For the Clippers starters, Chris Paul controls the ball in the middle. Redick and Lance Stephenson run the wings, while Blake Griffin runs to the low block and DeAndre trails the break, stopping at the high-post until a new sequence starts. If no initial shot is available in the fastbreak, the Clippers employ a lot on-ball screens in their secondary fastbreak action.
Early in the first quarter, following a Rondo miss, the Kings did a respectable job getting back on defense. Although Paul isn't bolting down the floor, it's still a fastbreak and Paul notices the Kings unbalanced defense, passing the ball to Blake. Between Blake and his favorite spot on the floor, the rim, is a back-stepping rookie, athletic-freak Willie Cauley Stein. Instead of challenging him at the bucket, Griffin uses Stein's depth against him. Griffin dribbles to his left for a handoff to Redick. The shooting prowess of the Dukie forces Ben McLemore to guard him tightly. Once Redick becomes one pass away from the ball, McLemore's mental alarm goes off, causing him to creep even closer to J.J. Not close enough. To best guard elite shooters off screens, defenders are supposed to attach themselves to the shooter. Often in the NBA, and even college, high school, and rec leagues, defenders grab on to the jersey. Also, if the chance arises, defenders use their body to disrupt the direction of the shooter. Redick's dealt with this style presumably since grade school and McLemore makes a major mistake: if you're not early, you're late.
The importance of team continuity illuminates in this sequence, as Redick springs early towards Blake following the first dribble. McLemore's tardiness and Redick's cognition create space for the shot. Blake does a fantastic job setting his feet and putting his body on Thrift Shop. Willie leaves Redick with enough space to fire off a jumpshot. Rondo decently closes from the weak side, but the Redick needs very little space to get his shot off.
In the NBA, handoffs often receive illegal screen whistles, but repetition allows the Clippers to adjust despite the rushed sequence. Redick receives multiple dribble handoffs a game in the fast break. Surprisingly, in this sequence Redick has the audacity to shoot with Rondo closing quickly, leaving Paul open on the wing. Redick won't always shoot the ball in these situations, but it's a piece the Clippers use to engage the offense quickly on a non-set play.
The next offensive play, the Clippers run a detailed, halfcourt set for Redick. Using a Floppy set, the Clippers place two screeners on one side of the lane and one screener on the other for a shooter underneath the bucket. Every team in the NBA uses Floppy. Therefore, every team practices against Floppy. The Clippers moderately disguise Floppy by running Lance baseline and having Blake position himself for an immediate pin-down screen for J.J.. Lance's faux-cut manipulates defender Rudy Gay into focusing on Lance and not seeing the oncoming set, eradicating the Kings' communication and help ability. An interesting development of the Clippers' floppy from last year to this year is Redick circling Lance. Granted, this play was only contained one spin, but against the Mavericks, Redick spun around Lance several times. This spinning misdirection puts McLemore in a trailing position. Floppy presents Redick a choice â to go off the single-screen or double-screen side. Redick opts single-side. DeAndre's location on the screen stresses the defender immensely. If McLemore shoots the gap, it's an easy flare read for a corner three. McLemore, like most defenders, chooses to trail.
Redick and D.J. perform an inadequate pindown. Redick usually rounds the screen as tightly as possible to DeAndre, preferably brushing up against him. On this play, Redick runs a little wide, not allowing Jordan to set a clean screen. McLemore attaches himself better than the last play, coercing J.J. into curling and off the first shot option out of Floppy. But the play goes on! They've planned for this! If Redick does not get his shot, habitually he swings the ball to other side, this time Paul receiving the pass. Upon Paul touching the ball, Blake sets an on-ball screen. Kings players felt the brunt of this Clippers blow, with three defenders collapsing within a six-foot radius. Paul hits Blake on the short roll, while J.J. using his intuitive genius. Instead of sitting open on the wing, Redick walks down with Griffin as he goes. Leveling with Griffin eases the pass, which eventually is made to Redick alone in the corner. McLemore commits far too much to helping on the pick-and-roll, forgetting about Redick. Jordan's dunk-potential sticks Cousins by his side, not letting him help anywhere else on the floor.
Maybe this Film Room episode's purpose is to highlight Ben McLemore's defensive shortcomings--it sure seems like it. But that's not the case--at every stage of the play, the Clippers' Floppy Set is one of the hardest to guard in the league, especially with this much quick movement. J.J. Redick's shooting spawns the lethal potential of Floppy, but notice all the options created: A Redick jumpshot, Chris Paul/Blake Griffin pick-and-roll, a Blake Griffin/DeAndre Jordan high-low, and finally another Redick jumpshot. In this specific sequence, the Clippers passed the ball four times and alternated sides of the court four times in just eight seconds. That's impossible for any team to guard, not just the Kings.
Later in the first, the Clippers use another common NBA set, HORNS, which situates one ball-handler in the center of the court, two players at the high-post, usually big men, and the other two in the corners. The rare Griffin/Jordan pick-and-roll occurs from HORNS. Here, J.J. passes to Griffin, the normal choice, and runs down to set a cross-screen for Lance. At this point, the Clippers run a basic flex offensive set. Flex components are taught to every basketball team at every level - down screens and screening the screener. Jerry Sloan effectively used this continuous moving offense with the Utah Jazz.
Redick runs to set a "flex-screen" for Lance, hoping to free his cut across the paint, which Lance appears to lack interest in attempting to score on. Continuing the flex theme, Jordan screens the screener, J.J., with a down-screen. Poor McLemore--a young, promising player who should have dressed as a crash-test dummy for Halloween if he wanted to fully get into character for this game. The Clippers collision-tested McLemore the whole night, putting him through endless screens, none more jarring than Jordan's on this play. Redick ran a little tighter to Jordan, letting Jordan put his frame into McLemore's body. Cousins' decision to basically not guard Jordan gave Redick more space. After McLemore collapsed to the ground, zero defenders closed out to Redick, who shot cleanly.
Each team guards the fearsome foursome fundamentally similarly. Make Redick dribble. Don't guard Jordan unless near the bucket. Force Blake to shoot jumpshots. Make Chris give the ball up and he'll stand still. Now, Doc Rivers uses tendencies to on themselves, such as in the last play.
Early in the third, Redick proves how overplaying certain tendencies can create massive holes. A dwindling shot-clock puts the Kings in a pressure defense, not wanting any Clippers to receive an easy catch. Paul passes to a curling Redick on the three-point line, with ex-Clipper Darren Collison smothering J.J.. Collison fantastically prevents a jumpshot, but guarding so tightly creates an easy driving lane for Redick. With every Clipper 20 feet or more from the basket and Kings defenders so close to their matchup, nobody protects the rim. After clipping Collison's hip, Redick wins the footwork battle, keeps Darren behind him and glides in for an uncontested layup.
J.J. handles the ball sufficiently well and does not commit a great deal of turnovers. When overplayed, he possesses the ability to beat his marker off of the dribble. Although the last highlight is unspectacular, defenses must respect the skill. Teams can't guard Redick as tightly as other one-dimensional shooters. The same dilemma quickly approaches defenses for Blake Griffin. Teams vastly overplay their strategy of letting Griffin shoot midrange shots. If Blake continues developing that shot, defenders eventually will creep up, opening the paint again for him.
Later, with Sacramento up 96-95 with 6:11 remaining, the Clippers run a variation of the Pistol set. Always run on the sideline, Pistol features a guard catching a handoff action on the run. The faster the action, the larger the gaps. Here Redick gets a double, staggered screen - the first from Paul and second from Griffin. On the opposite side, Jordan and Jamal Crawford stand doing nothing, but often in this set Jordan will screen Jamal's defender to occupy the help. Following the handoff from Blake, J.J. turns the corner and attacks the basket. Paul purposely fills the wing-area Redick left to take away his man. Blake rolls to the basket after screening Marco Bellinelli, Redick's defender. Redick continues to the basket unabated, as Kosta Koufos waits next to D.J. Koufos should have stepped up rather than allowing Redick to get to the restricted area unguarded. Rudy Gay started the possession on Griffin but decides to guard nobody after the handoff. Gay backpedals in the paint, waiting for Bellinelli to return to the play, but he never does. Redick superbly attacked until stopped, penetrating so deep that the entire defense collapses on him. Gay and Koufos jump on Redick's pump-fake, who then shovel passes the ball to an unguarded Blake at the rim.
Redick has mastered creating space. Providing him two screens virtually guarantees an open Clipper, depending on how the defense rotates. When not featured in plays, Redick spotting-up maximizes others' space. Defenders can't risk leaving Redick, who shot nearly 44-percent from deep last year. Redick is vital to the Clippers' success. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin may author the Clippers offense, but Redick is the editor. He cleans weaknesses and makes the product simpler.