Charlotte Hornets

How ex-Duke star J.J. Redick has survived bear-hugs, the eye test to thrive in NBA

Now in his 12th professional season, former Duke star J.J. Redick, at front in this file photo, has developed into one of the NBA's savvier players. Given their youth and inexperience, the Philadelphia 76ers drastically needed some of that NBA know-how.
Now in his 12th professional season, former Duke star J.J. Redick, at front in this file photo, has developed into one of the NBA's savvier players. Given their youth and inexperience, the Philadelphia 76ers drastically needed some of that NBA know-how. AP File Photo

If you just look at J.J. Redick — the eye test alone, not knowing anything else about him — "longtime NBA veteran" likely isn't the first thing that comes to mind.

After all, Redick is just 6-foot-4, 190 pounds (and even that's generous). He's a thin, fairly average-looking guy. Even when he starred at Duke, he was never the fastest or strongest or biggest player on the court.

And yet, he's an NBA survivor.

Really he's much more than that. Now in his 12th professional season, Redick has developed into one of the NBA's savvier players. Given their youth and inexperience, the Philadelphia 76ers drastically needed some of that NBA know-how. Signing the 33-year-old Redick to a one-year deal worth $23 million in the offseason gave it to them.

Now that move is paying dividends.

Take for example Sunday's game between the 76ers and the Charlotte Hornets. The 76ers built up a 20-point lead to begin the fourth quarter (most of which Redick didn't play) and easily cruised to a 119-102 victory. Redick finished with 20, just above his career-best mark this year of 16.6 points per game.

"Incredibly well," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said when asked how Redick fits in Philly. "Just like he fit in incredibly well with the Clippers. He has such a basketball IQ and plays at such an energy level."

Those may sound like cliches for a veteran, but in Redick's case, they're true. Without size or strength, it was going to take something for him to stick in the NBA for over a decade.

Of course, Redick's shooting is one thing — he's making 40.9 percent of his 3s this year, 41.4 percent for his career and sank 5 of 8 Sunday — but it had to be more than that, too.

And so, Redick learned how to move.

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Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, left, and Philadelphia 76ers guard JJ Redick struggle for the ball during a November game. Redick is "in constant motion. He can back-cut, he can front-cut, he's just perpetually moving," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. Winslow Townson AP File Photo

"He's in constant motion. He can back-cut, he can front-cut, he's just perpetually moving," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. "I think he gets fouled all the time. I think people bear-hug him all the time."

That was on display Sunday, as well, as Redick constantly drove to the baseline only to then pass the ball away ... and then move some more to get open for his own shot.

That's something of a lost art in the league, and Redick is one of the best there is at it. Underappreciated as it might be, it's something Redick's game has been founded on — and a technique his young teammates, such as Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, can learn from.

And it's not just on offense that Redick has carved out a role.

"What people don’t realize is he’s very good defensively," Clifford, who coached Redick when he played in Orlando, said. "His team defense is great. Watch him. He doesn’t get blown by. He’s a very solid individual defender."

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After this NBA season ends, Redick very well may don another team's colors, selling his skills for the maximum value . In an era where max contracts reign supreme and longevity is key, Redick has shown this season that yes, there is still another way to do things.

As the 76ers have grown, as their young players have blossomed and turned into leaders themselves, Redick's influence has been less paramount. He is not by any means the future of this team. But as for whether his signing was worth it?

"They knew what they were doing (signing him)," Clifford said. "I remember talking to Brett about him. He’s the ideal guy. You have a young team. He’s a pro's pro.

"Watch him talking to the younger guys during the game — they are learning every second he’s out there."

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