The Other Guys: JJ Redick
The Philadelphia 76ers have had quite the interesting season. Hoping to build off last year’s playoff success and validate the Process, the 76ers doubled down and then tripled down on two big trades to bring in Jimmy Butler in November and Tobias Harris in February. Pairing those two with rising stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons has created the rare “Big Four”. It’s a tremendous level of talent collected together, so much so that we often forget the other guy in the starting lineup, JJ Redick, and why he’s vital if Philly wants to win a title.
See, there’s a bit of a glaring flaw in the Big Four. While Harris is an elite shooter and Butler a respectable one, Embiid has been a bad shooter from behind the arc and Simmons’ outside shot is borderline nonexistent (four attempted threes all season). That lack of shooting leads to poor spacing, which clogs up Embiid’s postups as well as driving and passing lanes. In an era where spacing reigns supreme, the 76ers Big Four doesn’t have enough on its own.
That’s where Redick fits in as the potential final piece to the championship puzzle. A career 41.3% from behind the arc, Redick is a veteran 3-pt shooter that commands respect from the defense even in his 13th season. This gives him a kind of “gravity” around him that pulls out the defense and creates spacing. But Redick’s impact and role doesn’t stop just there, how he generates his shots matters schematically too. While his accuracy is a little down this season (39.0%), he’s shooting a high volume at 7.7 3-pt attempts per game and scoring 18.2 points per game.
One of the negatives to being a role player among stars is having to play more off-ball on offense. One of the positives though is you get better looks for catch-and-shoot opportunities. Redick has been capitalizing on that and is shooting over half of his threes off catch-and-shoot (4.4 attempts per game) at great accuracy (42.6%), according to NBA stats. This allows him to fit in well with the other four by not needing the ball much on offense, while still requiring a defender on him at all times, making even more of that precious space. It’s also a nightmare in transition, as defenders must mark Redick immediately or suffer.
The icing on the cake is Redick isn’t just a spot up shooter. Over his NBA career he’s developed an incredible ability to run around at full speed, stop on a dime and catch-and-shoot. This extra wrinkle lets the 76ers run off-ball screens or dribble handoffs for Redick to free him up for catch-and-shoot opportunities, forcing the defense to spread out even further.
Redick does have his limitations on defense, but his offensive contributions definitely make up for them and are a key reason he rounds out the starting five for the 76ers. What matters most is that he compliments their Big Four in such a way that if they all come together it’s not hard to see them win a championship this season. He’s the other guy in the starting lineup, but he’s no less important.