Cam Reddish is a Difference-Maker
Did you ever see a picture of Cam Reddish next to a power forward on the Hawks or a center on some other team and think, "Wait a minute. Cam looks big. He's almost as tall as that player that is standing next to him. Did he get taller recently?"
Given that he just turned 22 years old recently, the question begs asking of Reddish himself. Did he grow in the offseason?
"I don't know. I think I was 6-8 last year. I think I'm still 6-8," Reddish said hesitantly. "I feel a little stronger, but I don't feel like I'm taller."
Regardless of whether it happened recently or in years past, the Hawks are going to need both Reddish's length and strength as they navigate the next couple of months. Without De'Andre Hunter, who will miss approximately eight weeks following right wrist tendon surgery, Reddish – who has a 7-1 wingspan – is the longest option that head coach Nate McMillan can throw at an opponent's best and biggest wing players.
In the Hawks' Wednesday win over the Boston Celtics, Reddish guarded Jayson Tatum when Tatum re-entered the game at the start of the second quarter against the Hawks' reserves. On Boston's first possession of the quarter, Marcus Smart tried to make a short perimeter pass to Tatum, but Reddish timed it and quickly shut off the angle, deflecting the ball away and gliding in for an easy basket.
The play typified Reddish's 19-point, 3-steal effort to cap a week that saw the Hawks' bench lift its performance in four home wins. Head coach Nate McMillan likes having Reddish play with veterans like Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams.
"Cam got a hot hand and we started to feed him," McMillan said after the Boston game. "Lou did a good job of calling sets for Cam, and Cam did a great job of making plays to finish."
Reddish heated up in the second quarter of Saturday's win over Charlotte, too, scoring three field goals in a two-minute span. In the final minute of the fourth quarter, he hit the game-icing three-point shot and finished with 17 points.
Reddish leads the Hawks with 19 steals this season, and he has shined most on the defensive end of the floor in his 101 NBA games spread over 2-plus seasons. He causes the most pain for opponents in those spare moments when he can gamble for a planned pounce before recovering to his original assignment. Given that Reddish loved playing football almost as much as basketball and that he played as a safety (and quarterback), those pounces should not surprise anyone.
"That's probably why I get a lot of steals now," Reddish quipped with a grin about his days in the secondary.
The wins over Boston and Charlotte were instances where it was easy to see him growing into his offensive game, too.
"He's tough to stop when he tries to get to the rim," Kevin Huerter said. "He's so athletic. He's so long. He has got a lot of different moves when he gets into the paint. I think that is where he is at his best: playing downhill and getting into the paint."
There's an old expression that goes something like, 'To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.' Reddish has the positive predicament of having a full toolbox on offense. He can hit the outside shot, he can dribble into a pullup and, as Huerter noted, he can drive to the rim where he has a full assortment of finishes – dunks, layups, reverse layups – all of it. Choosing the right one, or making the correct extra pass, against the world's best defenses takes time and experience, and Reddish is starting to figure out that part of the equation.
"Personally, I'm always trying to tell Cam (to use) aggressive intelligence, calmness, but still try to attack, and I feel like he sort of did that tonight," John Collins said Wednesday. "Not saying it was because of me, but you're just starting to see his game slow down and when he does slow down and finally pick his spots, the game's so easy for that dude."
One extra aspect that has helped Reddish slow down is the strength that he has gained since joining the NBA. The Boston game showcased how much he has improved at finishing through contact.
Through games played Saturday, Reddish ranks third in the NBA in total points scored among players who have played entirely off the bench this season. His 203 points puts him behind only Jordan Clarkson (244) and Lamarcus Aldridge (207).
For the season, Reddish is averaging 11.9 points and 1.1 steals per game, while putting up career-high marks in field-goal percentage (41.2), three-point percentage (36.8) and free-throw percentage (87.5). Reddish has provided the scoring punch for the bench unit that is still finding its footing, and as a result, he has more turnovers than he would like. At the same time, it should improve with time and repetition. Delon Wright and Gorgui Dieng are new to the Hawks' reserves, and nearly every rotational bench player other than Reddish missed time in October or November.
Reddish embraces the adjustments as the bench tries to refine their collective game.
"That's the fun part of it all, obviously, getting to learn with new guys, learning their tendencies and stuff like that. I've been talking to Gorgui a lot about what he likes in pick and rolls. It's all a process. We're still learning each other, and we'll continue to get better throughout the year."