JJ Redick shoots a mid-range jumper at Houston

Pelicans 2020 seeding games profile: JJ Redick

by Jim Eichenhofer

On a New Orleans roster that features two players who aren’t yet of legal drinking age – as well as seven other Pelicans aged 25 and under – JJ Redick is a distinct outlier. When the shooting guard made his official NBA debut for Orlando on Nov. 25, 2006, Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes were both 6 years old. When Redick appeared in the ’09 NBA Finals with the Magic, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball were still tweens. Although a few Pelicans teammates enjoyed significant success at the NCAA level, including national champions Jahlil Okafor (Duke) and Josh Hart (Villanova), none possesses anything close to the thickness of Redick’s hoops postseason resume. Not only does the 36-year-old maintain a streak of 13 consecutive NBA playoff appearances, but he also reached four straight NCAA Tournaments at Duke, highlighted by a Final Four trip in ’04.

A player who began competing in pressure-packed basketball games in a previous century (Redick’s Virginia high school career started in the late 1990s) now has 110 NBA playoff games under his belt. That’s more than the combined tally of the rest of the New Orleans squad, which totals 95, via Derrick Favors (31), Jrue Holiday (30), E’Twaun Moore (21), Darius Miller (9) and Sindarius Thornwell (4). Although Redick appreciates the uniqueness of his career-long team consistency, he pointed out July 18 that he’s itching to make a deeper advancement in the NBA’s bracket.

“I don’t know that it means anything to me, because it’s just normal,” Redick responded to a question about the significance of being a perennial playoff participant. “I don’t mean that in any sort of pretentious way – it’s just what I’m accustomed to, playing deep into the season.

“The two years I had in Orlando where we made the Finals and the conference finals, that was pretty early in my career. We had everyone under contract and I thought it was just going to be an annual thing (to advance that far). But I haven’t been back to the conference finals since 2010. It’s nice to make the playoffs, but the deeper meaning for me is the pursuit of a championship. I’m toward the end of the road (of his career) here, so I’m hoping that becomes a reality at some point.”

As New Orleans (28-36) attempts to build a team that consistently competes for NBA titles, Redick’s extensive track record and leadership have been invaluable, particularly after the Pelicans endured a 13-game losing streak and 7-23 start. Along with Favors, he’s provided a steadying presence for many of the club’s untested young pros.

“JJ is a Grade A professional,” Ball said. “He comes early and gets his work in. He goes hard every day in practice. You don’t ever see him complaining, taking days off. You can come to him for any advice, whether it’s basketball or non-basketball related, he’s going to help you out. JJ has been around awhile. He’s been through a lot in life, seen a lot of things, so he can help all types of different guys.”

When combining his NBA regular season and playoff experience, Redick has logged over 25,000 minutes in the league, but runs and moves like a player with much less mileage, partly by maintaining high-level conditioning. During the league’s hiatus, Redick actually managed to lose weight, helping him to prepare physically for the restart. He’s not sure how much longer he’ll play in the NBA, but has shown no signs of slowing down in his first season with the Pelicans, shooting 45.2 percent from three-point range. That ranks third among all players, behind only George Hill and Seth Curry.

“I just turned 36, but I feel like I look at least (as young as) 34 and a half,” the NBA’s eighth-oldest active player joked of his age. “I feel good still. I feel like I have years left in my body.”

Seeding games to watch

New Orleans opens its eight-game slate with two opponents that feature three of the NBA’s premier bench scorers, making it important for Redick and Pelicans reserves to match production. Utah’s Jordan Clarkson (15.1 ppg) ranks seventh in bench scoring among all players – and fifth among those in Orlando, because Detroit’s Derrick Rose (18.1) and Washington’s Davis Bertans (15.4) are not participating. On Saturday, the Clippers’ Lou Williams (18.7) and Montrezl Harrell (18.6) form one of the league’s premier bench duos, though Williams will miss the game as part of a league-mandated 10-day quarantine.

Incidentally, among Redick’s four former NBA teams (Orlando, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Clippers), the Pelicans are scheduled to face two of them, including the Magic in their Aug. 13 seeding-game finale. New Orleans has two meetings vs. Sacramento, which Redick beat at Golden 1 Center in January by banking in a left-handed floater over Richaun Holmes.

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