- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 25, 2006

The matter of J.J. Redick’s NBA worthiness does not extend beyond the length of his jump shot, impressive as it is.

Redick is neither quick enough nor physically imposing enough to be an effective off guard in the NBA.

His 6-foot-4 list height is so much wishful thinking that will be pared to 6-2 in the weeks leading to the NBA Draft in June.

His shoot-first instincts do not lend themselves to an easy transition to point guard in the NBA, if it comes to that.

Redick is not unlike many of the luminaries who have passed through Duke.

They were able to maximize their athletic gifts because of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s system, only to wind up as borderline disappointments in the NBA.

Krzyzewski is an anomaly in the college game, a players’ coach who identifies his leading performers and then embraces them through good times and bad. The anal-retentive types of the college coaching fraternity usually find the latter difficult to accept.

Yet Krzyzewski recognizes the long-term payoff in permitting his stalwarts to play through their off nights.

Redick endured a fitful performance in his last outing, missing 15 of his first 17 shots before hitting three of his last four to lead Duke past Georgia Tech.

That kind of freedom is rare at the collegiate level, however beneficial it is to the player and a basketball program.

That liberty provides a wrinkle in the evaluation of Redick as an NBA prospect.

He has become all that he possibly could be in the college environment. His has been the perfect 3-point storm.

Yet that soon will pass as Redick endeavors to find his place in the imperfect culture of the NBA.

He is confronted with more potentially bad situations than good in the NBA. He would look better next to Steve Nash. But then you could say that about nearly every player in the NBA.

Redick is never going to be a lock-down defender in the NBA. He is never going to be a player who can create his shot on a whim in the NBA.

Although he has improved in that capacity at Duke, he still is forced to pull his dribble and pass out of trouble on too many occasions against what is inferior defense compared to the NBA.

Even as Redick sits in the lottery position of all the NBA mock drafts, he is saddled with the suspicion of being the next Steve Kerr, which is unkind to Kerr and not the worst fate. Kerr, after all, spent 15 seasons in the NBA as a spot-up shooter and was a member of five championship teams.

Redick’s professional career could be equally long, because being able to shoot the ball is the most precious skill there is in basketball. And no one does that better than Redick.

He has what is sometimes called ‘stupid’ shooting range, so deep are some of his 3-point attempts. His 25-foot range is what allows him to get past college defenders.

That ability is certain to be stifled in the NBA because of the size and athleticism of the players. A basketball floor becomes so much smaller with 6-5 guards, 6-9 forwards and a 7-0 center.

Redick has evolved as a player in his four seasons in Duke, which the NBA’s personnel gurus are bound to note as a positive.

Their challenge will be to determine if he has hit his athletic ceiling or if he can make further advances. That is one of the subjective properties of the draft. It is not who you are. It is what you could be in a few years.

Otherwise, Redick’s dominance of a scaled-down college game, however complete, is hardly a reliable barometer of his destiny in the NBA, as all too many drafts reveal after the fact.

Redick’s fate in the NBA rests with the immeasurable stuff if he is to be more than a complementary part.

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