Last year’s Duke freshmen class was a much hyped class, considered by some, one of the best ever. They drew comparisons with perhaps one of the most famous freshmen classes, the Fab Five Michigan Wolverines from 1991. Unlike the Fab Five crew, Duke’s freshmen class didn’t come close to expectations, getting knocked out in the Elite Eight. Much can be said about how the season went.
Perhaps the infamous shoe incident of presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson had the biggest impact on their success. But there was something else that Zion Williamson’s injury caused. It put the spotlight on the No. 2 and No. 3 2018 high school recruits (according to ESPN), RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish.
Unfortunately, Reddish did very little to distinguish himself with Williamson’s spotlight out of the picture. Now with his lack of production with or without Williamson playing, the question remains if his production is a true projection of his career as an NBA player or was he simply in the wrong situation to show his talents?
Cam Reddish, Guard/Forward, Duke
Reddish is a 6’8 208 lb swingman who coming out of high school was a highly sought after talent. He was projected to be a very skilled player with the potential to be great on both ends of the floor. He has a 7’1 wingspan and a 8’9 standing reach. This is how his size compares to a couple of notable players:
Reddish’s athleticism checks a lot of boxes. At 6’8 with great lateral quickness, and a long wingspan, his physical gifts gives him the tools to be a good defender with the ability to switch on smaller guards as well as bigger wings like himself out on the perimeter.
I know many will point to Reddish’s 35 percent shooting percentage at Duke as evidence that he is a poor shooter (we will address that in a moment), but that doesn’t really give the true story of his shooting ability.
Reddish has good form on his jump shot. He does a great job of squaring up to the basket, even as he is on the run and those are skills that give him great potential as a 3-and-D type of wing player. He also shows ability to shoot off the dribble, but it is a skill that he is still developing.
Reddish showed the ability to be a good defender. On the perimeter, he has the lateral quickness to stay in front of most guards that he has faced. His length allows him to play the passing lanes well and he has shown the ability to have good awareness as a team defender. His defense is perhaps his most NBA-ready skill.
Not a Fluid Offensive Player
Reddish does a poor job of feeling how defenses defend him. He often barrels into defenses without having a plan of what he will do with the ball. Despite his physical ability, he does a poor job of avoiding defenders while attacking the basket. He very rarely side steps defenders, which is important given how quickly NBA defenders can move into an offensive player’s pathway to the basket. As a result, he averaged 2.7 turnovers versus 1.9 assists per game.
One possible reason that should be noted for Reddish’s difficulty of getting clean driving lanes, despite his underdeveloped skill, is Duke’s poor three-point shooting, which ranked 16th-worst in the nation. Without the threat of shooting, teams can pack the paint more. Perhaps better spacing around him will help him as he develops as an ability to attack the basket better.
Not a Good Primary Offensive Player
For a player that was as highly recruited as he was, given his projection as a lottery pick and also given his physical attributes, it would seem as if Reddish would be a primary option on offense, but he is not. He often deferred while at Duke. He does not possess a great off the dribble game. Once Reddish dribbles a couple of times off of his spot and into the defense, he lacks the creativity to get himself open looks. He has been much more effective allowing other players to create for him.
Going back to the early point about Reddish’s low shooting percentage. Perhaps his biggest flaw as an offensive player, is encompassing of all the things that I just mentioned, which is he takes a lot of bad shots. There’s a difference between being a bad shooter and taking bad shots. Despite his low shooting percentage, Reddish can has the ability to shoot at a higher clip, but he must find a way to get better looks and much of that starts with fixing the other items I just mentioned.
Despite physical attributes that Reddish possesses, he got pushed around a lot. At 208 lbs., he could certainly fill out more and become stronger, but some of his issues being pushed around were as much mental as it were physical. There have been questions about his motor and his lack of aggressiveness. Those are things that cannot be taught. One has to wonder if this is something that can change over time.
Best Game of College Career
Showing the potential that so many thought he had, Reddish lead the Blue Devils in scoring with 24 points on 8-16 shooting against ACC foe, Boston College. This was also a game where both Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett were playing, which makes his numbers even more impressive.
Fit for Wizards
Redidsh is a player whose career projection will be greatly impacted by the what situation he is put in. He needs a team that has good coaching, an ability to develop young player, who is willing patient enough to not ask too much of him too soon. Even all of these things are available to him, then perhaps he can live up to his full potential. At this time, I don’t know if anyone can say with full confidence the Wizards will have that ability, especially without their front office situation being settled.
Even if the Wizards did consider him, think about this. The Wizards have a great need for a lot of things, but I don’t see a need for drafting Reddish. If Reddish showed an ability to be a good rebounder and a good post defender then you could have used him as an occasional small ball 4 that could cause serious mismatch problems for other teams. Without having the ability to thrive at the 4 in a small ball line up, you are stuck with trying to play him with Troy Brown, and Bradley Beal at your wing spots.
Certainly that’s a nice wing combination, but you will have a hard time playing them all together (unless you play Brown or Beal at the 1) and it will become even harder once Wall returns. With this team needing help at so many positions, depth should not be the focus in this draft.
And ‘For the best player available’ crowd, remember how much Otto Porter Jr was criticized for not being aggressive enough? Is this team really going to improve with a player who has some of the same question marks? It seems like either way, the Wizards would be better to pass on Reddish.