Michael Redd uses season with Suns as stepping stone for future

The return of Michael Redd to an NBA basketball court was one of the under-publicized feel-good stories of this season after two crushing tears to his ACL cost him more than two full season’s worth of games.

Nobody expected Redd to return to his All-Star form from his Milwaukee days, but his signing with the Phoenix Suns in late December was beneficial to both the 32-year-old and the organization. The fledgling relationship between he and the Suns was expected to provide head coach Alvin Gentry with another bench option and give the talented scorer an opportunity to find his legs.

Both missions were accomplished.

In a season that went at a breakneck pace, it wasn’t fair to expect that Redd would ever hit 100 percent in basketball shape, and even youngsters like Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris admitted the season wore on them physically. Simply put, there wasn’t the time in the training room nor enough time to recover in between games for Redd to completely find his old self.

Yet that, and the fact that Redd remained healthy in his knees and otherwise, only gives hope that the former Ohio State Buckeye hasn’t shown just how big of a contributor he can be for the Suns or any other NBA team.

Redd ended the season with averages of 8.2 points and 1.5 rebounds per game, shooting 40 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from three-point range.

In playing just 15 minutes per game in his return while under the guidance of the Suns’ well-respected training staff, Redd had a decent PER of 14 and was Phoenix’s most prolific scorer in terms of points per minute played. Redd’s 19.5 points per 36 minutes in 2011-12 is nearly on the same pace as his 20.9 points per 36 minutes in the beginning of the season before his first ACL tear in January of 2009, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

And he became a key cog in the second unit that gelled after the All-Star break for Gentry, acting as a streaky gunner and consistent shooter from mid-range, especially coming across curl screens on the wing.

Redd was also surprising in his diversity; he wasn’t afraid to draw contact on dribble-drives to the rim, and ranked third in the NBA — seriously, third — in post-up situations, scoring 1.16 points per possession and shooting 53.5 percent, according to mySynergySports.

A liability on the defensive end for the Suns because he was slow afoot, Redd had a team-worst defensive rating of 111, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

But despite his inability to chase swifter players around screens or recover when defending against pick and rolls, Redd does have some ceiling of improvement that he can grow into before next season.

His defense might’ve been a weakness, and the 6-foot-6 guard’s offensive statistics aren’t eye-popping numbers by any means, but what can Redd — who is now a free agent — do with a full offseason of work and the confidence that he still belongs on an NBA court?

The stronger he becomes, the more minutes he’ll be able to go, and that presents much intrigue for Phoenix and other teams looking to find an inexpensive scoring threat off the bench.

The likelihood of returning to Phoenix is hard to calculate this early in the offseason, but this we do know; the Suns used their training staff’s reputation to rope in the veteran guard.

Don’t think that won’t have a bit of pull when Redd is making a decision on his next contract.

“I want to play at that elite level I’m accustomed to playing at,” Redd said when he was introduced in Phoenix. “I asked all the doctors, this last surgery, ‘Can I play at the level I’m accustomed to playing at?’ They said, ‘Yeah.’”

The final answer to that question still hasn’t been answered.

The 2011-12 season can only be used to affirm Redd’s belonging in the NBA, but it also shows the evidence that he’s still on the comeback trail — nothing more.

Now he has options, something that couldn’t be said before Phoenix picked him up during this season.

Tags: Michael Redd

  • Gold Star for Robot Boy

    Good article. Thanks for confirming what I thought I saw: Redd was quite effective down low.

  • Scott

    My impression watching the games was that Redd performed much better as a starter.

    In his two starts he played 27 and 23 minutes, somewhat less than his career average of 32. Yet he scored 20 and 17, respectively, in those games, when his career average is 19. So those 2 starts with the Suns were above average games for his career.

    I guess his defense must have been so poor, though, that despite his scoring they couldn’t afford to start him on a regular basis.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    They couldn’t afford to start him on a regular basis because his body [knees] would have exploded.

  • B. Cray Z.

    Redd is well respected as a person.

    Being such a likable guy, unlike D-Will, he made a significant contribution to the chemistry of that 2nd unit.

    So did Louis & The Brazilian Blur. They brought that positive energy to Indy. Could have helped the cause right here.

    MUST reunite that killer bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!!!.

  • Scott

    @Rich -

    Does starting really make so much difference? If it was a matter of conditioning, he could have started but played fewer minutes than other starters.

    I already pointed out that his scoring as a starter was above his career average per game, even though the minutes were 5-10 minutes fewer.

    In fact, his scoring in his two starts with the Suns in 23-27 minutes was comparable to his scoring with the Bucks in 37 minutes (’03-’04, ’08-’09). That’s scoring the same amount, but in 10-15 minutes fewer of play time, if you compare only those 2 seasons as a Buck.

    Coming off the bench with the Suns, his average minutes were 15. If defense wasn’t an issue, he could have kept the same 15 minutes a game, and been subbed out early for Dudley. (And as a veteran of the Suns’ system, Dudley might have been more helpful for the 2nd unit anyway.)

    Part of the problem that Gentry somehow failed to realize was that both Redd and Brown needed an efficient defensive foil and the ball in their hands. Why Gentry played Redd and Brown together so much, when even conceptually – without going to stats – they subtracted from each other’s games, is puzzling.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Being the everyday starter isn’t just about playing the games, though. It’s also about all of the practice that you need to do.

    As a starter, you’ve got a definite key apart from the general plan of attack for the night. You’ve got to run those drills and run those plays that might be called on more in this game and not that game.

    The Suns, (and Gentry), did right by Redd and did not push him too hard.

    Look at all of the healthy people who crumbled this year. From Rubio to Shump. D Rose to B Davis. How they used Redd was perfect.

    If he returns to the Suns after a full off-season of conditioning, training, and no rehab, I’d expect his minutes and possibly his role to pick up depending on what we do leading up to, and on the night of the draft.

  • Ty-Sun

    Considering Redd’s defensive stats, many opposing teams’ guards would have had a field day with him and Nash on the court at the same time. Gentry did the right thing by primarily keeping Redd on the second unit.

  • Ty-Sun

    And I agree with Rich. If Redd returns next year his role could change drastically depending on what changes the Suns Make during the off season. Does Nash return? Who do the Suns take in the draft? What trade opportunities will be available?

    If Nash is gone, Telfair will probably start even if the Suns draft a PG. Redd might be a better choice to start beside Telfair. If the Suns draft a 2, Redd might not even be back or perhaps they will want him to start and move Dudley back to the 3 either as a starter of Hill’s backup. We also don’t know if Hill will return so Dudley could easily be the starting 3 if he doesn’t return. If that’s the case then Redd would probably start so they could ease the rookie 2 into the rotation. There are just so many possibilities that it’s nearly impossible to predict what the Suns will look like next season.

    Lol, lets just say the somehow the Suns actually do pull off a miracle and sign D-Will. Redd should fit well with him and would probably start (even if his minutes were still limited). A starting lineup of D-Will, Redd, Hill, Morris and Gortat sounds pretty good to me. Telfair, “rookie SG”, Dudley, Frye and Lopez as the second unit also sounds pretty good. It’ll never happen but what they hell… it’s all conjecture at this point because there are just too many “ifs” for Phoenix right now.

    I could go on and on with all the possibilities but we fans will just have to wait and see what actually happens.

  • Scott

    @Ty-Sun -

    I would prefer that the Suns keep Nash, and I don’t know if Deron is really the answer for the Suns, though his game seems to have the proper elements. He certainly is expensive, and then there’s that possible character issue that caused Utah to send him away after playing well for them over so many years.

    Anyway, if the Suns do keep Nash, and if they don’t draft Marshall, there are still more PG possibilities in future drafts.

    I would have liked for the Suns to have picked up Kyrie Irving or Ricky Rubio in the last 2 years, but it didn’t happen. If they miss on Marshall this year, there will be an opportunity for another try the following year.

    Also, with the draft being so deep this present year, teams may be more pressured to drop current young players off their rosters in free agency, and they may overlook some talented 2nd rounders in this year’s draft. So there could be some opportunities to sign inexpensive, developing young players this year and the next that the Suns can use to shore up the 2nd unit.

  • GoSuns

    The character issue might be a bit premature with dwill considering people have said the same things about a lot of players including fellow pgs drose and rondo, players arent perfect as neither are we if we wanna win we have to take risks, i owuld prefer smart risks that dont waste money but taking chances non the less


    go bucks!

  • shazam

    dude change your name