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2019-20 Player Preview: JJ Redick brings three-point marksmanship and veteran professionalism to young New Orleans core

Alvin Gentry expected to fill the Zion Williamson void with one of the best three-point threats in NBA history.

NBA: Preseason-Utah Jazz at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran sharpshooter JJ Redick’s eagerness to rejoin the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason was not hidden, but the 35-year-old guard landed in New Orleans on a two-year, $26.5M deal with his sights set on a favorable style of play and the ability to provide leadership in a high capacity.

Philadelphia only had so many seats at the table on payday, and Redick hadn’t secured one in the front office’s plans. But Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin and General Manager Trajan Langdon, a fellow Duke Blue Devil to Redick, relished the opportunity to add his presence to a franchise establishing a new culture.

You might not say Redick is at his peak, but he still averaged a career-high 18.1 points per game last season with the 76ers to pair with 3.2 made threes. Entering his 14th season in the league, the former No. 11 overall pick holds a 41.3 career three-point percentage. We’re talking about one of the greatest snipers in NBA history.

Redick sits 21st on the all-time makes list with 1,704 deep shots drained in his tenure. Last season was his first shooting below 40 percent from three — by a hair (39.7) — since 2013-14, his first year with the Los Angeles Clippers. He also averaged eight three-point attempts per game, which was 1.4 more than any other season in his entire career. This is important because floor-spacing gravity is just as important as making the three-point shots in the first place as our own Ben Pfeifer recently articulated well.

JJ Redick is not only one of the most accurate three-point shooters in the NBA, but he attempts threes at one of the highest rates of any NBA player; this past season he took a ridiculous 12 threes per 100 possessions. Even if Redick isn’t hitting his threes, teams know he is going to shoot them, so they guard him accordingly. If Redick didn’t take threes often, defenses wouldn’t respect him as much even if his accuracy was high. One of the most jump shot heavy players in the league, a whopping 89.3 percent of his 1,027 were jump shots and 58.9 percent of those shots were threes.

For those concerned about his age, don’t be — he’s still trending positively.

“As [Redick]’s getting older, he’s getting better,” Griffin said during the last media day event. “He’s figuring out more of where he’s going to get his shots from. When I look at him, the [specialist aspect] in him is going to be the part of him that’s a vocal leader in a way that maybe he hasn’t had to be before. I think we’re really putting a lot on him in that space, and frankly I think that’s a big part of what attracted him to this opportunity – our style of play lends itself very well to the way he plays the game, but our roster lends itself to the leadership component he brings.”

Both closing notes there hold even more weight now. With rookie star Zion Williamson out for six to eight weeks due to a right knee injury, that reliance on Redick immediately increases. Fortunately, the Pelicans feature a number of playmakers that will be able to get him open shots. His voice becomes even louder too. Sure, the efficiency Redick exhibits coming off screens and the cerebral nature of his game can’t be understated; however, it will be his poise, experience and professionalism that truly allows him to lift this team across the board.

“We’ll hold it down as best we can without him,” Redick said following Sunday’s practice. “Obviously, we need him back. Hopefully he takes his time and recovers fully.”

Redick started Friday night against the New York Knicks as Williamson was unable to make the Pelicans’ preseason finale. He scored 14 points while knocking down three of four shots from behind the arc and boasted the team’s best shooting percentage.

Redick averaged six points per game this preseason and shot 50 percent from deep over his 58 minutes played.

According to head coach Alvin Gentry, it’s probable Redick joins Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram and Derrick Favors as starters for the Oct. 22 season opener in Toronto. Redick has averaged nearly 73 starts per season since 2014, and his excitement to play another year still resembles that of an exuberant child.

On Sunday, Redick compared his emotions during the start of an NBA season to the feeling a seven-year-old kid has when unwrapping presents on Christmas morning. New Orleans felt the same way when the franchise landed Redick — even Griffin initially admitted he never thought it’d be a possibility. Now it’s time to see what the shooter makes of his new role and home with the Pelicans.

2019-20 Player Previews:

Jrue Holiday

Didi Louzada

E’Twaun Moore

Derrick Favors

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Frank Jackson

Kenrich Williams

Brandon Ingram

Lonzo Ball

Jaxson Hayes

Jahlil Okafor