Name: Jonathan Clay “J.J.” Redick
Weight: 190 lbs.
Position: Shooting Guard
Experience: 10 years
Key Stats: 16.3 PPG, 48.0% FG (11.7 attempts per game), 47.5% 3P (5.6 attempts per game), 88.8% FT, 1.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, in 28.0 MPG
Contract Status: J.J. is in the final year of a 4 year/$27,755,000 contract and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Breakdown: The list of players with a higher true shooting percentage than J.J. in the 2015-2016 season is a short one: Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. Yep, that’s it. Coming in at #3 on the list is our very own marksman turned podcast host who tied his own team record for most triples made in a season with an even 200 (on 37 fewer attempts, mind you). Those numbers, while certainly impressive, don’t adequately illuminate the positive impact that J.J. has on the team’s offense, however. His constant off-ball activity is exhausting enough to watch on TV, let alone actually have to shadow on the court. On nearly every Clippers’ possession you can find J.J. traversing the hardwood, zigging, zagging, and zipping around screens in perpetual motion. His ability to create space for himself not only frees him up to fire off that quick release that so often tickles the twine, but catalyzes much of the Clippers’ offense.
As his 111.5 offensive rating suggests (second only to Chris Paul’s 111.7), the team is highly efficient when J.J. is on the floor. That’s no coincidence. When he curls off the top of a crushing DeAndre Jordan screen or stops on a dime and flares to the corner as a defender tries to cut off his path, he puts an immense amount of pressure on the defense to react swiftly and correctly - no easy task. The threat that he poses as a shooter has a gravitational pull on the defense, as his poor, exhausted defender attempts to recover and the other must hedge to contest his shot. His ability to hit that shot when given just the slightest amount of room to pull the trigger is well-documented, but his knack for making the smart pass when closely guarded is an underrated skill that keeps the offense from stagnating.
Though he may not be known for his defense, J.J. was very effective as an individual defender last season, holding opponents to 38.2% from the field on possessions where he was the primary defender. While that number is surely somewhat attributable to his tireless offensive efforts that wear on opposing shooting guards, he has become a capable on-ball and above average system defender. He may not put up eye-popping numbers on that end of the court, but he plays heady defense and is rarely caught out of position. The consummate role player, J.J. is the player that, when on his game, truly allows the Clippers to fire on all cylinders.
Outlook for 2016-2017: Though he may not garner the same attention as the “Big Three,” he is just as integral to the Clippers’ success this season as the three all-stars. As evidenced by the team’s 3-5 record last season sans J.J. (including a game in which he played only the first 18 seconds), the team is simply not the same without him in the lineup. Aside from a newborn baby in the mix, not much has changed for J.J. in the offseason. He will remain the starting shooting guard, likely average just under 30 minutes a game, and there’s no reason to believe that the starters will display anything less than the excellence that we’ve grown accustomed to over the last four years.
One fun storyline to keep an eye on will be J.J.’s pursuit of the vaunted 50-40-90 club (FG%-3P%-FT%). After being on pace for 50-50-90 well into the season and finishing just a couple of percentage points off last year, there’s no reason to believe that he shouldn’t again challenge to become the 8th member of the exclusive group. He’ll need an uptick in field goal percentage, but he’ll certainly flirt with 90% from the charity stripe and barring a major regression, won’t have any trouble hitting the 40% mark from deep.
On a far more stressful note, this is a contract year for J.J. and though I’m doing my best to not let myself consider the fact that he may not be in a Clippers jersey come this time next year, it’s probably healthy to face reality. If his podcast interviews with teammates, coaches, and even Steve Ballmer are any indication though, it seems that he’d like to stay in Los Angeles. He repeatedly and genuinely discusses the unique bond that this group of guys share and seems confident in the future direction of the organization as a whole. However, as it so often does, it comes down to money, which unfortunately may be a little tight in an offseason that will include the attempted re-signing of both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Okay, enough of that.
Though it’s easier said than done, let’s not worry about next offseason quite yet. Instead, let’s just enjoy ourselves as J.J. runs defenses ragged, appreciating those jarring moments when one of his jumpers fails to find the bottom of the net and reminds us just how spoiled we are to watch this guy shoot.
Stats courtesy of NBA.com/stats.