Pelicans should focus on J.J. Redick maximization to boost offense

The New Orleans Pelicans brought in J.J. Redick to be a veteran leader and impact player, but the team needs him to be an even bigger force on offense.

It’s been an up-and-down start to the season for the New Orleans Pelicans, who stand 6-14 and in fourteenth-place in the Western Conference. However, by looking at an increase in J.J. Redick‘s role for this squad, the Pels might find themselves back on track.

Riding a five-game losing streak into their match-up against the Dallas Mavericks tonight, the Pelicans need to find a way to get back to the giant slayer-style they were starting to develop as recently as last week.

While Redick didn’t get going right out of the gate, the 35-year-old continues to enjoy a pretty nice season shooting the basketball.

Contributing heavily to a Pelicans squad that ranks fourth in the NBA with a 38.3% three-point rate, J.J. Redick is making 47.1% of his 7.4 three-point attempts per game. He’s also averaging the third-most points on the team, averaging 15.2 points per contest.

Ranking second among shooters to take at least five threes a game, Redick is already causing all sorts of issues for opposing defenders, despite standing just 6’3″ with some years under his belt.

Redick is averaging just 0.4% less than the highest rate of his career while shooting just under the 8 three-point attempts he took per game last year as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Looking towards a veteran like Redick to get this team back on track seems like a wise move for Alvin Gentry and his coaching staff.

Over his eleven-year NBA career, J.J. Redick has proven a model of consistency on the offensive end, giving teams a heady, hard-working player to create space by running off screens. As a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, that trend continues to hold true.

Redick’s hard work as an offensive spacer pays off on the back-end, often leaving him open around the arc for easy, open threes.

Speaking of consistency, Redick has never missed the playoffs in his NBA career and is currently starring down a change to that reality if this Pelicans group can’t start finding ways to win basketball games.

In order to keep themselves within striking distance when Zion Williamson returns later this month, this team needs its shotmakers to hit shots.

With one of the worst defensive bunches in the league, the offensive angle is imperative to winning games for the Pelicans.

Even part of many starting groups, it still feels like the Pelicans aren’t using J.J. Redick enough, even as they try to learn about young players.

Needing to find something or someone to get their season back on track, J.J. Redick is one of the few seasoned veterans on this team who’s seen both sides of success and failure in the NBA.

Lacking other answers, Redick seems like an obvious choice for a workload boost.

Simply put, the New Orleans Pelicans have to increase the usage for their sharp-scoring veteran guard. After posting a 21.9% usage rate last season in Philadelphia, that number has dwindled to a lesser 18.8% rate with the Pels.

Currently, Redick ranks eighth on the team in usage rate, putting him right in the middle of the pack, but it seems like he should really be in the top four-or-five on the squad.

It’s not that Redick needs the ball in his hands to succeed; in fact, he’s a better off-ball player than on-ball, thanks to his immense displays of hustle. In essence, feeding him the rock just means feeding Redick more shot attempts than the 10.6 per game he’s shooting now.

The Pelicans are looking to Redick in their starting lineup with increasing consistency, as he’s started 15-of-19 games, with Nov. 8 being his most recent stint starting the night on the bench.

In order to find a season where J.J. Redick had a usage rate under the 20% mark, it would go back to his 2011-2012 with the Orlando Magic. It would take a trip to the 2010-2011 season to find a lower usage rate season for Redick than the one he’s posted so far in New Orleans.

Playing 28.6 minutes per game, an average figure for Redick, it seems like teammates Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday should try to get the spacer a few more touches per game. While he might not post superstar numbers, his ability to make three-point shots can help this team bigger leads.

Running more offense through J.J. Redick helps take the load off younger players, who might find easier opportunities with the veteran acting as the floor-spacer-in-chief.

Getting Redick more touches on offense does more than just boost the lines for the veteran scorer, it’ll help act as a catalyst for a lot of players on this Pelicans squad, especially the younger players on this team who don’t have the same level of spacing brilliance.

Just look at the team Redick played alongside in Philadelphia over the past few seasons. The 76ers’ young core with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid thrived with J.J. Redick’s floor spacing added into their offensive mix.

In two years with the 76ers, the team was +6.3 with Redick on the floor and were -6 without the guard on the floor. This season in New Orleans, the team is -3 with Redick on the floor, but are still a frightening -2.5 points when he’s out of the game.

For the team’s young guards like Lonzo Ball and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Redick opens up lanes on offense dramatically, as his running off screens takes opposing defenders off their man and into bad positioning.

Guards can take advantage of the Redick-generated passing and driving lanes to help boost consistency in their plan of attack.

Moving inside, Jaxson Hayes and Jahlil Okafor benefit from added spacing as they’ll usually then be left all alone inside, only having to work against a slow-footed defender to create in the post.

While Nicolò Melli‘s focus is also on floor spacing, being able to create screen-and-fade opportunities with Redick gives the Italian rookie a chance to rise-and-fire over a smaller defender who would otherwise be running with the veteran.

Getting his young teammates open helps this team in the long-run, or at least to find some voltage as a young team in this league. Finding balance on offense will be a running theme as this core continues to gel.

Overall, these young players have a lot to gain from playing around a veteran like Redick, especially when monitoring his work effort and off-ball excellence. There’s a reason players like Redick, who has a negative wingspan, stick around for many years in this league.

Next: The Pelicans could use Kenrich Williams back in the mix

The New Orleans Pelicans need to get this thing back on track if they want any shot of making the playoffs come April. Riding one of J.J. Redick’s best shooting seasons could be crucial until they start to find some consistency across the board.

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