2019-20 Rookie Review: Cam Reddish Surprised Us In The Pick & Roll

(Photo credit – Tomek Kordylewski)

By Matt Esposito

As the number five overall player on my 2019 Big Board, Cam Reddish seemed to be built in a basketball factory if that factory was ran by a hoops-crazed Willy Wonka. That positional size. That fluidity. That effortless stroke. Seeing Reddish slip to the 10th pick gave some serious Paul Pierce draft day vibes. Even his fellow rookies thought Reddish would have a stellar (read: the best) career among his draft class.

The beginning of his career was anything but stellar. Yet, Reddish’s statistics and play improved steadily with each passing month. Concurrently, (that SAT vocab prep is really paying off) as his confidence grew so did his willingness to display his bag of scoring tricks. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. Regardless, check out his monthly development. The order of the months begins with October at the top of the chart and ends with March at the bottom.

Courtesy of basketball-reference.com

As Reddish’s points per game, offensive rating and true shooting progressed, so did his flirtiness as a pick and roll ballhandler. In fact, Cam impressed not only as a scorer but as a facilitator as well. Atlanta may have the complimentary scorer for Trae Young that they so desire. Continue on to see just how he wowed in this area despite not being utilized too often in it.

Pick and Roll Scorer

At Duke, Reddish was often deployed as a tall shooting guard. He was instructed to come off of pin down screens, provide spacing on the perimeter and dart to the corners during fastbreaks for triples. There was little emphasis on him running pick and roll sets and suddenly I’m mad at Coach K again.

It was somewhat surprising, albeit encouraging to see Reddish given more ballhandler responsibility. Yet, Cam showcased some elite separation moves when maneuvering screens. Having a picturesque release and 6-foot-8 frame, the pre-shot set up is incredibly important. Hawks fans should drool when watching Reddish dribble his way off of picks and into stepbacks, floaters, hesitation pull ups and rip through drives. All can be seen below.

Did Reddish sink these looks with regularity? Not really. But rookies are not supposed to. Do not be discouraged to learn that he only scored 0.72 points per possession as a pick and roll handler. The eye test is far more uplifting and useful. When Cam is under control and balanced, his shot is as mouthwatering as lickable wallpaper (great Wonka callback, Espo.) It keeps defenders honest and opens up driving lanes to the hoop.

What’s more, I had underrated how he used those handles to create for others. When Reddish breaks down a player he continues to scan the court. It adds a dimensions to his game that I did not foresee during his college days.

Pick and Roll Facilitator

As the season progressed you could see Reddish become more comfortable with the pace of the game. In fact, when watching some of his pick and roll passing clips, the former Blue Devil could even look a little too nonchalant. His growth in confidence was palpable and Atlanta benefitted from it.

It helps that John Collins and the sneakily impressive Bruno Fernando (not too mention Clint Capela) are strong lob threats off of the roll. Reddish proved adroit at using crossovers, hesitation and patience to run his man into the screen. From there he showed his chops dishing pocket passes, well placed lobs and assists with useful english on them.

Once more, Reddish weaponizes his height. Many of his pick and roll assists are reminiscent of a big-to-big mantra. How is a backpedaling center supposed to simultaneously defend a driving Reddish and prevent a lob? Correct answer: he cannot. Reddish puts the ball where only the roller can get it and it pays off.

Offseason To-Do List

According to Cleaning the Glass, Cam in the 19th percentile for at-rim field goal percentage. Yikes. He seems to have won half of the battle; his ability to get to the rim is good enough. So, where does he struggle?

Reddish needs to put on some good weight. There were multiple time this year he either missed a dunk attempt or was blocked during it. When rewatching these attempts it becomes clear that Reddish is either avoiding contact by moving away from the rim on dunks and/or not strong enough to jam it through the contact.

Luckily, Reddish has a frame that suggests he can pack in some muscle. Eat a couple Wonka Bars (last reference, I swear.) Those shoulders look prime for bulking up. With some extra time in the weight room and some more pick and roll reps, Reddish could become the second star in Atlanta and make them rethink their heliocentric offense.

Published by Matt Esposito

Founder/Writer for Theplaygrounder.com and contributor to Red’s Army Twitter: @Mattesposito_

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