• Joshua Gamel

Is Cam Reddish Improving?

Cameron Reddish started the season looking like a bust and an abysmal waste of the 10th overall pick. However, since starting the season in October, the former Duke Blue Devil has radically increased his production and efficiency.

Many NBA fans, bloggers, writers, and commentators were quick to doubt the idea of Reddish being even a decent player in the league. This could have perhaps been a justified school of thought through five games in October which showcased Reddish shooting 5.6% from deep, 21% from the field, and only contributing 5.2 points per game.

Reddish was featured on a handful of “Shaqtin’ a Fool” episodes which only added insult to injury for the 20-year old rookie. One of the most popular videos shows Reddish performing a wildly out-of-control, double spin move, airball layup. This caught the attention of many NBA fans and only proceeded to boost the discussions of Reddish’s incompetence.

Through those first few embarrassing games, one aspect of Reddish’s game that did stand out was his tenacity and perimeter defense. Immediately upon coming into the league, Cam showed that he could use every bit of his prototypical 6-8 frame and athleticism to be an effective rotation-level defender. Rather than struggle against smaller guards like many rookies tend to do, Reddish has been a positive on that end of the floor since coming into the league.

In this clip, Reddish forces LeBron to make a quick pass before landing out-of-bounds and proceeds to make a heads-up play be collecting the rebound and running the fast break.

Here against Orlando’s Evan Fournier, Reddish shows the aforementioned tenacity by simply playing bully and ripping the ball from the veteran’s grasp and then showcasing some nice length and athleticism in the open court.

There are plenty of other examples of Cam playing heads-up defense and taking advantage of his size in the passing lanes. In a loss to the Nets last month, Reddish recorded his career-high in steals with five. A week later he recorded four versus the Spurs.

In a nutshell, Reddish has always been a plus defender. The question being asked this season is whether or not he can develop into a productive and efficient offensive player.

Thus far, he has not been an extraordinary scorer or playmaker, but he has improved dramatically from October until now.

Over the course of four months, Reddish has doubled his scoring output, cut his negative plus-minus in half, increased his offensive rating and three-point percentage by 40-percent, and doubled his true-shooting percentage. The 40% from deep in January is a great sign of the direction Reddish is heading, and hopefully he can sustain it.

As it pertains to offense, 22-year vet Vince Carter recently said he worked with Reddish on his three-point shot after noticing “extra movement and wiggle” when launching from deep and wasn’t always “catch and shoot ready”.

Carter says he has been working with Reddish since December to try and help a consistent shooting motion for the young Hawk. When asked about Carter’s coaching and advice, Reddish had this to say:

I mean, I clearly needed help. I was shooting five percent or whatever it was.”

The work with Vince is clearly paying off as Reddish is shooting more threes per game at a significantly higher clip. Reddish’s improvement in shooting has also worked wonders for other aspects of his repertoire. His ability to finish in the paint has taken a steep rise also.

This is highlighted in the following clip in which Reddish dunks on one of the best defensive bigs in the NBA.

The future looks increasingly promising for the young 3-and-D hopeful in Atlanta. Cam Reddish was voted to be the most successful player in the 2019 draft by his peers in a class that includes stars such as Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. If he can continue to develop, the Hawks will have a host of promising young players moving forward, especially with the recent addition of center Clint Capela.

All things considered, Reddish is indeed improving and it's happening at a drastic rate.