Draft Profile: Is Cam Reddish The Poster Child For Positionless Basketball?

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The Hawks hold the rights to multiple picks in the upcoming June 20 NBA Draft. At Hawks.com, we'll be talking to some of the writers and bloggers who watched some of this year's key prospects most closely. 

JD King (@DBRTweetz), who covers Duke basketball for Duke Basketball Report (@DBRsbn), gives us an in-depth look into freshman forward, Cam Reddish's NBA potential. 

 

Draft Profile: Is Cam Reddish The Poster Child For Positionless Basketball?

Cam Reddish is one of the most talented yet debated players likely to be picked in the lottery. 

After he chose Duke, he said one of the reasons he did was because he understood that he had to improve his intensity and defense.  

Most of the criticism Reddish took this year wasn’t about defense so on that score he succeeded. He was, quietly, one of Duke’s best  defenders.  

And that’s saying a lot because Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and most of all Tre Jones were all outstanding defenders on that Duke team. So were Javin DeLaurier, Marques Bolden,  Jack White and Jordan Goldwire.

Being a good defender in that group really says a lot. 

Reddish is long-armed and his intensity on defense was pretty good. He was able to guard anyone other than bulky post players. He didn’t have to all that much - Jones’s ferocious defense took most point guards out of games and the others all defended their positions well -  but on defense Reddish was like the queen on a chess board. He’s just immensely flexible on that end of the court. 

Most of the questions came on the offensive end. 

Certainly he’s capable. 

Reddish made his bones on the offensive end with no less than John Calipari saying that he was the embodiment of the concept of positionless basketball. 

Duke got a hint of it in the season opener against Kentucky when Reddish, Barrett, Williamson and Jones all led the break at various times. It was like a team with four point guards, all different sizes and with overlapping skills. 

For the season, Reddish shot 35.6% from the floor, 33.3% from the line and 77.2% from the line.  

Why?

One theory was that he was too passive and with powerful offensive teammates like Williamson and Barrett on the team, he was willing to let them be the dominant offensive performers. 

There’s some truth to that. Both of those guys did a great job dealing with other talented players and they had a special bond. But Williamson was unstoppable when he had the ball and Barrett, who was always heavily defended, took a lot of shots and was probably asked to do so. 

When you watch Reddish shoot he has a pure stroke. It’s really quite elegant. So why didn’t he connect more? 

One theory is injuries. He had to sit out Duke’s summer tour in Canada with a hip issue and after the season had surgery for something termed a core injury. We really don’t know much about that injury. We do know that a core injury would affect your ability to move quickly and to stretch freely which could affect your shot. 

So that’s one for the scouts and technicians to look at. For the rest of us, consider this, and you can look it up if you’re dubious: when games got tight, Reddish shot better. 

This was most obvious when he hit the game winner against Florida State on the road but he hit a lot of big shots late in tight games.

If we were considering Reddish we’d probably ask about any issues he had this past season, look at his form and figure he can do better, particularly once he matures physically. For all his talent, he’s still very thin, which is what you’d expect from an 18-year-old who is 6-9. 

What we’d focus on would be his defense and his versatility. He can play a minimum of three positions, he’s a legitimate backup point guard if not more, and he has good range. 

And he has become an excellent defender. 

Calipari was fundamentally right: Reddish is a poster child for position less basketball.  His versatility and skill set would make him a great fit for the Hawks. 

 

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