Once opponents, how have J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley fared in Lob City?
Parts of the deal that sent backup guard Eric Bledsoe to the Phoenix Suns, Redick and Dudley were expected to be pure shooters and decent on-ball defenders with high basketball IQs. Although such a small sample size restricts our ability to evaluate the duo’s performance, we can glean a bit from some early-season action.
We will analyze Redick’s contributions before assessing Dudley’s, after which we will look at the two together and identify some expectations moving forward.
Redick has looked the part of pure shooter, helping the Clips’ league-leading offense space the floor. The Duke product is averaging 17.3 points per game, shooting a sterling 50 percent overall and knocking down 34.8 percent of his long balls. Moreover, Redick has converted 100 percent of his attempts from the free-throw line.
Redick eviscerated James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the Clips big 137-118 win. The guard was doing his best Ray Allen impersonation, running off double screens and cutting to the hoop for easy buckets. Had it not been for the brilliance of Point God Chris Paul (23 points, 17 assists), then Redick easily would have been the story of the night. The Duke guard scored a game-high 26 points on an efficient 7-of-15 shooting. He displayed solid on-ball defense on Harden, finishing the night with a plus-25.
Redick is averaging 10.5 points in the first quarter. His hot starts have been key in opening up the floor and allowing Blake Griffin to work from the elbow and the high post.
Thus far, Clipper fans have to be pleased with Redick’s play. Once he masters Doc Rivers’ defense then he will be a superb two-way player for this squad.
Dudley's contributions have been less than stellar than Redick's, but after a poor season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers, in which he scored just five points on 2-of-6 shooting, Dudley did reach double digits in three consecutive games. Coincidentally, the Clips won all three of those contests. Dudley had a great game against the Houston Rockets, when he scored 15 points and drained 50 percent of his shots from downtown.
One area that the Clips desperately need Dudley to improve is is his anemic rebounding. The Boston College product is averaging just 1.8 rebounds per game. He is yet to grab more than four boards in a contest, and he snatched zero rebounds in the Clips’ 110-101 win over the Sacramento Kings.
Dudley is the starter, but the early impression is that he will play a similar, albeit hopefully more versatile, role than Caron Butler. Matt Barnes should be on the floor instead of Dudley in crunch time. Nevertheless, the Clips need Dudley to keep knocking down his threes and make opposing wings work on the perimeter.
Integrating into Lob City
Alongside Redick, Dudley has helped to create a potent offense in assistant coach Alvin Gentry’s high-scoring machine. The Clips are obliterating opponents in the process, averaging a mind-boggling 119.0 points per game through four games.
Their 116.6 offensive rating is almost a full five points higher than the second-place Houston Rockets. Paul has never played with such a lethal offense, and the results are promising.
Conversely, the Clips are struggling to learn Rivers’ complex defensive system. For all of its offensive brilliance, Lob City’s defensive rating is 110.1, the worst mark in the league. Los Angeles has yet to hold an opponent under 100 points and has given up at least 115 points in three of four contests.
Giving up triple digits to the high scoring Rockets and Golden State Warriors might be more forgiving, but allowing 101 points to the cellar-dwelling Sacramento Kings is out of the ordinary for a Rivers’ led defense.
Will Redick and Dudley be able to adjust to Rivers' complicated defense?
Much of this can be chalked up to the season's small sample size, but the Clips will need to improve and be better defensively in the paint and on the perimeter. Redick is certainly a defensive upgrade over Chauncey Billups, and he wore out Harden in the win over the Rockets.
Alternatively, Dudley’s lack of athleticism was exploited by the likes of the Lakers' Xavier Henry, the Warriors' Andre Iguodala and even the Rockets' Chandler Parsons. Although his high basketball IQ has indicated that he should be a good fit once he fully integrates into the defensive system, he will struggle tremendously on the perimeter defending hyperathletic wings like Kevin Durant or Rudy Gay.
Fortunately, Rivers’ Thibodeausian defense calls for the sum of the parts to overcome the weaknesses of its individual pieces. Early into the regular season, it looks like Dudley and Redick are good fits in Lob City.
All statistics used from NBA.com and ESPN.com. Statistics used in this article accurate as of November 5, 2013.