After 15 seasons in the NBA, JJ Redick decided to hang up his sneakers and retire from basketball at the age of 37 this week. This marks the end of a remarkable career that never really should have lasted this long.
Redick, whose height and wingspan are both officially listed at 6’3, made it this far in the NBA not only because of his elite three-point shooting, but through sheer hard work and determination that helped him overcome his lack of elite physical tools and jaw-dropping athleticism.
He had a decorated collegiate career at Duke University where he was named the consensus national player of the year as a senior along with several other accolades. There were heavy doubts, though, that he could take his high-scoring ways with him to the professional level, which led to him falling to the Orlando Magic with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. He was not even the first Duke player chosen that year as his teammate Shelden Williams was taken six slots ahead with the fifth pick.
Redick went on to have a much better career than Williams, who lasted just six years in the league, and the rest of the players picked ahead of him as well, save for seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay (debatable).
The Virginia-born Redick now finishes his career with respectable per-game averages of 12.8 points, two rebounds, two assists, and 2.1 three-pointers on 41.5% shooting. Though he never became an NBA All-Star, he embraced and thrived in whatever role was given to him, which often helped contribute to winning teams.
His most successful years came recently, with the “Lob City” incarnation of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Philadelphia 76ers and as a result, his early career struggles with the Orlando Magic are often overlooked and forgotten.
Over his first three seasons with the Magic, Redick came off the bench and never averaged more than six points per game. He was unable to find a decent role despite playing behind a lackluster group of shooting guards–Maurice Evans, Mickael Pietrus, Keith Bogans, and Courtney Lee–whose names now only ring familiar to deeply devoted basketball fans.
Redick made it to the NBA Finals with Orlando in 2009 when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers and that deep postseason run may have been a turning point in his career. The following season, he was finally given a more defined role with the Magic, albeit still as a reserve, and he increased his nightly scoring average to 9.6 points. By the ‘10-’11 campaign, he finally broke double figures and kickstarted a run of 10 consecutive seasons of at least 10 points per game.
Orlando eventually dealt Redick to the Milwaukee Bucks before the 2013 midseason trade deadline where he spent just half a season before joining the Los Angeles Clippers via a sign-and-trade. Redick, who was already 29 years old when he became a Clipper, then proceeded to go on the best run of his career.
Thrust into a starting role for the first time in the NBA, Redick and his former collegiate rival Chris Paul formed an undersized yet dynamic backcourt that perfectly complemented their high-flying big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Then-Los Angeles head coach Doc Rivers, who won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 2008, utilized Redick in a role similar to the one that the sharpshooting Ray Allen played on that title-winning team. Redick thrived in Rivers’ system and the threat of his shooting, coupled with the continuous off-ball actions that he was involved in, opened up the floor for the rest of their team. This helped the Clippers become a contender in the Western Conference though they infamously underperformed in the postseason each year.
Come 2017, Redick signed with the Sixers, for whom he played two seasons. His time at Philadelphia, at the ages of 33 and 34, was his best from a statistical perspective as he put up 17.1 and a career-high 18.1 points per game, respectively.
Redick’s dead-eye shooting enabled him to become the ideal teammate for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. He continued to shift defenses with his off-ball movement and even became more involved with on-ball actions. Redick and Embiid formed a dynamic two-man game that took the league by storm and was a staple for those Sixer teams.
After Philadelphia lost to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in a heartbreaking seven-game Eastern Conference Semifinal series in 2019, Redick signed with the New Orleans Pelicans. With the Pelicans, Redick’s impact off the court and in the locker room was seemingly more valuable than his three-point shooting for the first time in his career.
It marked the beginning of the end for Redick and the ‘19-’20 campaign with the Pelicans was the first year of his career that he missed the NBA Playoffs. The next year, he was controversially dealt to the Dallas Mavericks midway through the ‘20-’21 season with whom he played just 13 games before announcing his retirement this past week.
There have been many versions of Redick through the years, from the Duke villain who first made a name in the basketball world, to a struggling role player with the Magic, to a perennial starter who was an offense unto his own in the NBA, to a veteran leader. His basketball playing career may have come to a close, but Redick will likely remain in the public sphere through his fan-favorite podcast and a likely career as an NBA analyst on TV.
He managed to stay relevant and in-demand in a league teeming with more and more athletic players by the day, carving out a lucrative and memorable career that may not ever be duplicated by someone of the same stature. The one constant with him over all this time has been his focus on continuous improvement, so if the past years are any indication of what’s next for Redick, it can be certain that the best is yet to come.