Redd Looks to Rise in Phoenix
Posted: Dec. 29, 2011
Looking to overcome injuries that critics claim have derailed his NBA career, should guard Michael Redd rise in the Valley of the Suns, it wouldn’t be the first time he proved naysayers wrong.
A second-round pick by the Bucks in the 2000 Draft, Redd was forced to watch as 42 NBA hopefuls had their names called before him. With an all-star in Ray Allen already on Milwaukee’s roster, Redd, like many second-round selections, appeared destined to fade into obscurity. During his first two seasons, the former Ohio State Buckeye averaged an accumulated 6.8 points per game, but would receive his big break during the 2002-03 season when the team agreed to trade Allen to the Seattle SuperSonics.
Redd would see his scoring increase to a 15.1 points-per-game average during his third NBA campaign, an average that would rise in each of the next four seasons. During that span he earned a reputation for being one of the league’s most dangerous scoring threats, and in 2004 was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
“He’s a guy with a great work ethic,” former Bucks teammate and current Suns forward Hakim Warrick said. “He works hard, and when he’s healthy, he’s an all-star caliber player. Unfortunately, he began to suffer some injuries and that really set him back.”
Following a 2006-07 season that saw Redd average a career-high 26.7 points per game, the guard would only manage to play 133 games in the next four seasons combined. Last season, Redd was only able to participate in 10 games with the Bucks before becoming an unrestricted free agent. Now, the man who once connected on an NBA record eight three-pointers in a single quarter comes to Suns, a franchise not only known for having had some great outside shooters, but for revitalizing careers.
One of the most recent examples of this is forward Grant Hill, who before joining the Suns in 2007, had also been plagued by a number of injuries. Since that time, Hill has managed to play an average of 78 contests per season, and has regained his reputation for being one of the league’s best all-around players. Having already found the fountain of youth in the Suns training staff, Hill was an incredibly reliable source to Redd when offering the guard some inspirational advice last season.
“We were in Milwaukee, and he came up to me and said, ‘You’ll get these years back. If you do it properly and you do it right, you’ll get those years back,’” Redd recalls. “That was big of him to come and encourage me like that.”
“I’ve been a big fan of Mike’s for a long time,” Hill told Suns.com. “I know what our staff here is capable of, so let’s get him right, let’s get him out on the court, and let’s allow him to do what he does best - put the ball in the basket.”
When healthy, putting the ball in the basket does not appear to be a problem for Redd, who during the 2002-03 season connected on an astounding 182 shots from beyond the arc. The guard ranked in the top-11 in the NBA in scoring on five different occasions, and averaged 20 or more points in six-straight seasons from 2003-09. With that type of scoring potential, it’s little mystery as to why Redd was named a member of the 2008 “Redeem Team” that captured Olympic gold in Bejing.
“I talked to the team about it today and everybody’s welcoming him,” President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. “As (former Suns Head Coach) Cotton Fitzsimmons said, ‘You can never have too many shooters’, and we could use his shooting, there’s no question about that.”
The late, great Fitzsimmons, who once coached a team inhabited by Jeff Hornacek, Eddie Johnson, Tim Legler and Dan Majerle, never hesitated to add another shooting threat to his roster. And as current Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry explained on Thursday, Redd's offensive knowhow help make him a welcomed addition to the team.
"The guy has been an all-star and a 20-point scorer in this league," Gentry said. "He's a guy who can shoot the ball from deep and is also very good at getting his shot off of screen and rolls."
Redd, meanwhile, is optimistic that he will not have any problems adjusting to his new teammates, who he could be joining following their current two-game road trip.
“Obviously Steve is a shooting guard's dream,” Redd smiled. “He’s a terrific player and a Hall of Famer. Grant Hill is in that same category, and there’s also some great young talent here too. Speaking with the players here, I’m very encouraged and I’m very excited to be a part of this organization.”
When looking back on his career and looking forward to his opportunities with Phoenix, a humble Redd puts everything into perspective.
“It’s been a roller coaster three years. At one point you’re at the pinnacle of your career, and the next moment, you’re at the bottom with injuries. But this is a new day and new age for me, and I’m excited about it. It’s kind of a rebirth.”