Think back to 2006. George W. Bush was the president, the Seattle SuperSonics were still in the NBA and the two biggest stars in college basketball were J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison. Oh, how the times have changed.
Redick garnered most of the national Player of the Year awards and earned the ire of opposing fans as a Duke star, while Morrison captured the country’s heart and imagination while playing at perennial Cinderella program Gonzaga. Both players saw their careers end in the Sweet 16, falling to Final Four-bound LSU and UCLA, respectively.
Morrison came off the board first at No. 3 to the Charlotte Bobcats with scouts raving about his “instincts.” Draft Express had his worst-case scenario as a “post-prime Glen Rice” and said he could “create his own shot better than anybody we’ve seen at the college level in years.”
Unfortunately, Morrison never translated to the NBA. At 6-foot8, 198 lbs. coming out of college, he was undersized for the power forward position and too slow for the small forward position. After a respectable rookie season (11.8 points, 29.8 minutes per game) the Bobcats dealt him to the Lakers where he never cracked the starting lineup.
Now the former college standout is looking for work anywhere he can find it, including Europe and the D-League.
Redick, meanwhile, fell to No. 11 and the Orlando Magic. A team with an established star big man in Dwight Howard and quality wing players in Grant Hill and Hedo Turkoglu, Redick was able to settle into the NBA as a role player.
The concern with Redick was that his size would hinder him in becoming a star at the shooting guard position. At 6-foot-4, he was never destined for that type of role even with his elite shooting ability. But although his NBA destiny was not to be a star, he was always going to be a better pro than his contemporary.
Redick managed to carve out reserve minutes on some very good Magic teams with his shooting and his effort on the defensive end of the floor. Over the last three seasons (and three games in 2012-13), Redick has seen his minutes and production increase with his three-game averages from this season showing everyone what most Redick supporters already knew: the guy can play.
Through three games this season, Redick is averaging 18.3 points in 34.3 minutes while connecting on 55.6 percent of his shots. He has already eclipsed the 20-point mark twice in this young season and is even averaging six assists per game on a Magic team that is looking for an identity.
Is Redick a true No. 1 option in the NBA? No, he is not. But could he be a potentially devastating third option on a very good team in need of his skills? You bet.
So as the trade deadline comes on Feb. 21, 2013, do not be surprised if Redick and his expiring contract end up being a quality rental option for a title contender. If that is his NBA destiny, he is likely just fine with it.