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Q&A: Hawks' Cam Reddish talks voting at State Farm Arena, upcoming season

The Atlanta Hawks forward talks about his experience as a first-time voter and more.

Khari Arnold

Cam Reddish showed signs of promise during his rookie season with Atlanta.

Cam Reddish was playing some of his best basketball before the NBA shut down in March.

He averaged 16 points with 49-40-83 shooting splits throughout his last 12 games, and to call that a vast improvement from his first dozen would be an understatement. Reddish got more comfortable as the season went on and at times exhibited his potential as a two-way star.

When the Miami Heat came to town in February, it was Reddish who provided the most impactful moment of the game against the eventual Eastern Conference champions. The 10th overall pick ripped Goran Dragic on one end, then made the go-ahead score on the other with 31.4 seconds remaining. The sequence ignited Atlanta Hawks fans inside State Farm Arena, and it was the loudest the building had ever gotten following a play Reddish made, he recalled.

The arena was much quieter when Reddish entered as a first-time voter for the presidential election two weeks ago. The 21-year-old casted his ballot on the same floor he made his first NBA basket. Atlanta became the first professional sports franchise to transform its primary venue into a polling precinct, opening its doors to tens of thousands registered voters while adequately adhering to CDC-recommended social distancing guidelines.

State Farm Arena is the largest-ever voting precinct in Georgia.

Since it won’t be open on Election Day, Reddish made sure he did early voting. 

He spoke to NBA.com about voting at State Farm Arena, HBCUs, the toughest player he guarded during his rookie campaign and his anticipation for the 2020-21 NBA season.

(Editor’s Note: The following 1-on-1 conversation has been condensed and edited).

NBA.com: What was the voting process like at State Farm Arena, and how long did it take until you were done?

Cam Reddish votes for the first time at State Farm Arena. (Photo via Cassidy Chubb, Hawks.com)

Reddish: They made it pretty easy at State Farm Arena. I would say (it took) around 15-20 minutes. I went, met up with a couple of my teammates. They took us down, got us (set up) and then we were able to vote. We took a few pictures and got up out of there. It was pretty simple. I feel like our organization did a really good job with that, allowing people to come in and vote. It’s been a success, a huge success. I think it’s a good thing.

How much of an impact do you think these arenas can have on fighting issues such as voter suppression?

Yeah, I definitely think it’ll make a huge impact because a lot of people that normally don’t get the chance to vote or wouldn’t even try to vote have a better opportunity since it’s more convenient. Everybody has a voice and every vote matters.

In what ways have coaches such as Coach K at Duke and Lloyd Pierce in Atlanta helped you grow in understanding issues outside of sports?

The biggest thing they’ve both helped me with is how to use my voice, whether that’s on the court or off the court. Whether you’re talking about ‘Black Lives Matter’ or yelling ‘switch’ on the court, use your voice. That’s the biggest thing I got from both of them.

There’s been talks of possibly having more future elite college prospects go to HBCUs. You were once the top high school prospect in the nation. Have you ever thought what that would have been like?

I haven’t given it too much thought since the process is over for me, but I think it’s a cool idea. I think athletes should take a look at it. I do kind of wonder what that would have been like, but I did enjoy my experience at Duke.

Sticking with Duke, your former teammate Tre Jones is a projected first-round pick. What do you think he will bring to an NBA roster?

You get pretty much everything when it comes to Tre. Obviously, everyone knows he’s a lockdown defender, but I really feel like you get the ultimate competitor and a phenomenal leader. He can score the ball in many different ways so I really think whoever gets him is going to be super lucky and they’ll see that quickly. I’m excited for him.

Last year, the rookies said you were going to have the best career. Even though it’s a talented class, I imagine you still want to prove that prediction right?

For sure, that’s everybody’s goal. It’s going to be whoever puts in that work. I know with God and my abilities, that’s definitely a possibility.

You’ve even received praise from one of the upcoming rookies in Anthony Edwards. He said you were the toughest player he ever guarded in high school. What do you make of that type of respect?

That’s my guy, I love his game. In high school, I was being myself and just playing my game.

Who was the toughest NBA player for you to guard during your rookie season?

I would probably say Harden. It was his volume. Every play he’s going at you.

I imagine you watched the Finals and saw Jimmy Butler wreaking havoc. He’s one of the NBA’s best two-way players and with that being one of your goals, is he someone you’ve studied this offseason?

Not in particular, I don’t really think we have too many similarities when it comes to our style of play. I do respect his game. I think he had a great showing in The Finals. But I haven’t studied him in particular. I might have looked at his moves and stuff like that, but I wouldn’t say I’m studying his entire game.

Are there any players you’ve studied when trying to improve your game?

When I was a kid, I was a huge Kevin Durant fan. But as I got older and started becoming Cam Reddish, I liked who that is so I’m cool with that. 

The Hawks were a better team during the second half of the season, even beating Butler and the Eastern Conference champs in February. How much can you all build on that going into next season?

I definitely think we improved a lot as the season went on, and I think we’re building chemistry day-by-day. Only way we can really go right now is up. Everybody is in the gym working. That gives everybody confidence. I’m just staying consistent with my workouts and everything so that can translate over to the games. I’ve been trying to touch up on all aspects of my game. I’m looking forward to whatever is to come, whenever it comes.

How anxious are you to finally get back on the court, and are there positives to being away from the game this long?

I’m extremely excited. I don’t even know how long it’s been, so I’m definitely looking forward to getting back on the floor. Obviously, we’ve had the ability to be with our families on a more consistent basis. That definitely means a lot to us because we’re pretty much traveling during the season 24/7. We know it won’t always be like that, so we definitely appreciate it. I wouldn’t say the time off is negative in any way. I think it was positive. We were able to work out individually and tighten up our games. So, I’m excited.

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Khari Arnold is a Senior Producer at NBA.com. You can email him here.

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