Grading J.J. Redick's Initial Performance with the Milwaukee Bucks
Most people assumed that the Milwaukee Bucks were going to be players during the trade deadline. They possess a backcourt that could potentially leave town after this year.
However, few people saw the move that the Bucks pulled off, picking up essentially the best player available, Orlando's J.J. Redick.
Sure, there were bigger names on the trading block, but after a lackluster trade deadline passed, Redick's name was the biggest that moved.
The thought was that Redick's game could compliment their current rotation by spreading the floor for the Bucks' bigs and providing a nice scoring option off of the bench.
So, how exactly has Redick fared since joining the Bucks?
It's all about spacing
The Bucks have a lot of strengths as a team. They have a dynamic backcourt that can score buckets by the dozens, they have one of the league's best young shot-blockers in Larry Sanders and they have a roster with plenty of cap flexibility going forward.
The addition of Redick was a fail-proof move for the Bucks, as they gave up relatively little for Redick. Sure, Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb could develop into very good pros at some point in their respective careers, but the Bucks are embattled in a playoff run and need as many hands on deck now.
Redick is a sharp-shooter and in the playoffs, where the half-court game is king. In the half-court game, perimeter shooters are almost as important as interior defenders.
Now the Bucks have both.
It's not that this team couldn't shoot before Redick got to Milwaukee. Monta Ellis is a perimeter shooter, but he has struggled mightily from deep this year, shooting less than 24 percent from deep.
Ersan Ilyasova started out pathetically this year after signing a big contract in the offseason, but he has come along lately, hitting close to 51 percent of his shots from the field over his last 10 games.
Brandon Jennings has been fantastic from deep this year, but his value is tied more to his ability to set up teammates and drive to the hoop. To rely on him exclusively to knock down threes in the playoffs is putting a little too much pressure on the young guard and is not optimizing his talents.
And Mike Dunleavy is always someone that the Bucks can count on to make a shot, but in the playoffs he can become fairly one-dimensional given his lack of athleticism and quickness.
The Bucks lack consistent down-low scoring from their frontcourt, instead building their roster around athletic, defensive-minded bigs like Sanders, Ekpe Udoh and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Now, this isn't to say that they can't score, but a big chunk of their frontcourt is built around players that are offensively limited and need spacing to free up their games down low.
This is where Redick comes into play.
Redick is the key to the second unit for Milwaukee and could also become a huge factor in crunch time for this team.
As of now, the Bucks are slated to go up against the Miami Heat, a matchup that they are desperately trying to get out of.
Now, while the Celtics have been surging, the Hawks have been scuffling and are certainly within striking distance for the Bucks.
The ride so far
Since joining the Bucks, Milwaukee is 6-2 (heading into Tuesday night's game against the Dallas Mavericks which was still in progress at publication) with their only losses coming in Redick's debut against Atlanta and a very tough Los Angeles Clippers squad.
The Bucks are playing much better basketball with Redick in the lineup, scoring 107 points per game during his stint as opposed to the less than 99 per game they scored without him.
Redick in particular is scorching the nets in Milwaukee, hitting 13-of-37 triples and averaging close to 14 points per game.
He has become the team's unquestioned No. 3 option on offense and one of the most valuable subs on the roster.
Redick's three-point shooting has been good but not great, yet still he is knocking down a high percentage of his overall shots, with an overall percentage of over 47 percent.
And while he doesn't exactly fill up the stat sheet with other numbers besides points, the Bucks don't really need him to. His job is to come into the game and shoot the ball.
Overall, the Redick trade has been an unquestioned success. He has provided a new wrinkle to the Milwaukee offense and has helped the Bucks improve their record.
However, the only way to judge this trade will be after the season ends and the playoffs begin. Can the Bucks make a run in the postseason?
Obviously this is not a championship contender, but if the Bucks can make it out of the first round and Redick helps with that, you will have to call this trade a great one.
Furthermore, how does Redick fit with this team going forward? Is he a hired gun that will be let go after the season? Or does he represent insurance in case Ellis or Jennings bolts? And just what will it take to bring him back?
There are plenty of questions that still need to be answered, but so far the Bucks have got to love what they are getting from Redick.
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