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2016 Clipper Exit Interviews: The year you fell in love with J.J.

This exit interview is brought to you by SeatGeek.

Name: J.J. Redick. Or Jonathan Clay Redick, if you prefer your NBA names to sound like Civil War generals.

Age: 31

Years in NBA: 10

Years in NBA with Performance-Enhancing Tattoo: 1/2.

2015-2016 Salary: $6.8 million. Mostly invested in watch futures.

Future Contract Status: Under contract next season at $7.4 million. Free agent after 2016-17.

Key Stats:

  • Top-Line Stats: 28.0 minutes per game in 75 games played; 16.3 PPG, 1.4 APG, 1.9 RPG;
  • Stats That Matter More: 47.5% from three on 5.6 attempts per game, best percentage among qualified shooters in the league; 59.3% eFG%, fifth-best in the league; 22.6% usage percentage, highest of his career.
  • Stats That Matter Most: One needlessly bruised heal. Although that mattered less than we thought it would.
Summary: How the 2015-2016 regular season will be remembered in the collective consciousness of Clipper fans will largely depend on what Doc decides to do this summer. If Doc is true to his word (and, in fairness, when has Doc ever lied to the the media in the past?) and keeps the Big Three intact, this past season's Cliff Notes will receive a painfully familiar treatment:
  • One superstar carried the team while the other superstar missed prolong time with an injury.
  • An internal organizational drama made us feel at least temporarily weird about our fandom.
  • We were way better than the Lakers.
Regardless of Doc's decision, one smaller but still unfortunate consequence of the Clippers' early playoff demise is that fantastic performances from the regular season worthy of appreciation will get unfairly  buried underneath the broader futility narrative. Five years from now  when someone asks, "What happened in that '15-16 season?", you'll say things like "Testi--it's a real last name" and "if only we had Phoenix's training staff" and "wait, was that the year before or after that Chuck the Condor sex scandal?"

But what you should say is: "2015-2016--that's the year J.J. balled out of his fu*&ng mind".

Redick was beyond fantastic this season. While Chris and DJ receive most of the credit for carrying the team in Blake's absence, JJ was arguably just as indispensable. With better hair, he evolved into a 2014-15 Korver-esque threat that not only made up for much of Blake's scoring but punished teams who didn't sufficiently plan for him. JJ was so good he made it into "well, if you replaced Klay with JJ, would there be that much of a drop-off?" conversations. (Answer: Yes, there would be, especially defensively. But offensively, not AS much as people think).

He led the league in three-point percentage in an era where that statistic is the most important it's ever been. He hit game-winning and game-tying shots. He played intelligent team defense. He made you take as much interest in his facial hair choices as your girlfriend.

Serendipitously for JJ, his best season on the court coincided with his surprisingly successful foray into the sports podcast world. Through his Vertical interviews and other media appearances, JJ was able to shed most of the prickishness residue lingering from his days at Duke. He'll never be fully rid of it, and obviously Clipper fans are biased towards buying into the rebranding. But there does seem to be a lot less J.J. hate out there these days.

If you haven't yet, I highly recommend listening to the Jamal interview after Game 6.

Strengths: Obviously, the shooting. But let's give a shout-out in this space to J.J.'s underappreciated comfort level heading to the rim. JJ frequently darts to the paint when he senses he is being overplayed off a curl or dribble hand-off. If a defender thinks he can cheat, JJ has no hesitation punishing him off the dribble. JJ had three times the number of field goal attempts within five feet this season as Kyle Korver did in his All-Star campaign last year.

Also, in the sports podcast world, he is a pretty decent host. If Serial ever does a "What the hell happened in the 2002 Kings-Lakers Western Conference Finals?" season, JJ would make a great co-host.

Weaknesses: As mentioned above, watches. And JJ has yet to have a great postseason while a Clipper, although you can't blame him for that this year.

Future with Clippers: Signed through next year. Although I do worry that at some point, when JJ prepares to run full-speed through that first-quarter maze of 50,000 back screens to create one half inch of separation between him and whatever 6'7 19-year old with a forty foot wingspan is guarding him, he'll just say "Nah, fuck this" and ask to take James Jones' spot on the Cavs.

Favorite Moment: If only this came a couple months later.

As always, big shout out to the homie Connor Carroll for the 'shops assist. Connor, you are the Chris Kaman to my...can't we both be Kaman?