After an equally tantalizing and frustrating season at Duke, Cam Reddish enters the NBA draft as its most polarizing prospect. The 6-foot-8 forward has always dazzled scouts with his effortless scoring ability, but his inefficient play has left NBA executives wondering whether he is truly worthy of a top-five pick. This is Blue Zone editor Shane Smith's argument why teams are undervaluing Reddish. If you want to read why he might struggle in the pros, click here:
Many basketball pundits tabbed Reddish as the incoming freshman with the most potential last season, and it came with good reason. The Pennsylvania native combines a fluid shooting stroke and above average ball handling skills with a great frame similar to NBA MVP finalist Paul George, attributes that current NBA general managers drool over.
Sure, Reddish doesn’t have great offensive efficiency ratings and certainly not the numbers you’d expect of a top pick, but the truth is that Duke’s offensive system was a poor fit for his game. At Westtown High School, Reddish played point guard and was the team’s primary creator with the ball in his hands. Once he stepped foot in Durham however, he had to defer touches to teammates Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett, as well as relinquish the lead guard role to Tre Jones.
Not only did the decrease in shots affect his points per game numbers, but he was also put into an off-ball role that he had never been in before. Combine that with the excessive amounts of zone defense that the Blue Devils’ opponents played this year, and the former No. 2 player in his recruiting class never got the chance to create magic off the dribble, and often settled for awkward shots in the soft spots of a 2-3 zone.
Once Reddish gets to the NBA, he’ll find himself with the ball in his hands much more often than at Duke, and with more shooters around him to space the floor, there will be much more room to operate. Not to mention, the NBA’s defensive three second rule makes it nearly impossible to play zone defense.
Another thing to consider with the former McDonald’s All-American is that he has only been playing with a dual-faceted game. Everyone knows that Reddish likes to shoot from deep, and although he has shown great finishing abilities around the basket, he often charges the lane with reckless abandon and racks up the turnovers. According to Hoop-Math.com, only 19.2 percent of his shots came away from the rim and beyond the arc, substantially lower than teammates Jones and Barrett. With his natural shooting prowess, the All-ACC honorable mention selection could become a dangerous scorer at all three levels in the pros, opening up all aspects of his game.
And oh, you can’t ignore the fact that Reddish simply has ice in his veins. According to Ben Swain of WRAL, when Duke is trailing, tied, or leading by more than six in the second half, the talented wing’s three point percentage rises to 41.2 percent, a big step up from his usual 33.3 percent clip.
Whether it was his buzzer beater against Florida State, his game tying three and winning free throws against Louisville, his three to put away Texas Tech in Madison Square Garden, or his three that cut UCF’s lead to one with two minutes to play in the NCAA Tournament, Duke’s so called “third option” became the top dog when the game was on the line, and that, like many of Reddish’s other skills, you just can’t teach.