PATTEN PENDING: WHY REDICK AND DUDLEY COMPLEMENT CLIPPERS OFFENSE SO WELL
When J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley arrived in Los Angeles this offseason, they were somewhat of a package deal.
They literally came together in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler. They were assumed to slide into the starting lineup to help thin out some of the defensive crowds warding the Clippers out of the paint. And while less than a fourth of the regular season has gone by, the Redick and Dudley duo has seemingly surpassed expectations already.
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have paced the league’s second most efficient offense and Jamal Crawford is off to the most effective pure shooting start to his 13-year career. But Redick and Dudley have helped take an already talented offensive group and make it lethal.
“Even not hitting shots, they’re going to put pressure on the defense just by the movement they have in our offense and their 3-point presence alone,” Griffin said. “It opens up the whole offense.”
Redick and Dudley are two of the league’s 30 best 3-point shooters in terms of percentage since 2007-08. They have to be respected. Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said you have to fear Redick sitting in the corner no matter how many shots he’s made or missed and Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau praised both acquisitions as severely “underrated.”
The Clippers have made use of both players early in games, sort of engraining the threat of the deep ball in opposing defense’s heads. Redick is fifth in the league in first-quarter scoring (6.7 points per game), but on Sunday against the Bulls, both Redick and Dudley got going early.
They scored 17 of the Clippers’ 31 first-quarter points, went 7-for-10 from the field and missed nary an opportunity to shoot. It was picture-esqe. Griffin and Paul could do the heavy lifting later, if need be.
“They make it much easier because you have to worry about those guys coming off of screens and then you get in transition, I don’t know how many [shots] J.J. or Jared got in transition on pull-ups,” Griffin said. “It puts a lot of stress on the defense and it allows D.J. (DeAndre Jordan) and I to set screens and kind of facilitate.”
See below for some visual examples of the “stress” Dudley and Redick put on opposing defenses:
The Clippers win the opening tap and the first play is Redick running Mike Dunleavy from the left corner to the right mid-post area for a catch-and-shoot jumper around a Griffin screen. He misses the shot, but it already plants the seed.
Three possessions later, Paul pushes the ball after Griffin’s defensive rebound and Dudley immediately ran to the right wing 3-point area. He almost always runs to the wing or deep into the short corner 3-point spot on the break. That’s what Griffin was alluding to when talking about what defenses get in transition. They’re so accustomed to honing in to stop Griffin and Jordan running for lobs that it opens up Dudley or Redick for wide-open transition shots from distance, creating sort of a viscous cycle on the break for defenses.
Finally, here is an example of how the spacing can impact the Clippers late in games. On Nov. 23, Redick, Dudley and Crawford are on the floor at the same time. Notice how tightly each of their respective men have to guard them. The entire lane is open for Griffin and Paul’s pick-and-roll dance. If the defenders in the corners cheat, Griffin will easily distribute the ball for an open jumper. If not, Griffin has the lane free.
Dudley described the Clippers’ offense, comparing what Associate Head Coach Alvin Gentry ran in Phoenix favorably to this season. “I think it starts with Chris setting the pace in transition,” Dudley said, “trying to get the ball and push it up and down. He likes to probe and do pick-and-rolls and then it goes to Blake in the post or finding Blake and D.J. running in transition. After that I think it goes to J.J. coming off screens to keep the defense honest and he’s a willing passer.
“Me being a spacer and feeding off the other guys when it comes to them in the post, if they’re double teamed, moving without the ball, being smart. There are a lot of components to it. But for us I think it’s about staying within our roles and knowing our strengths.”