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Opinion: Cam Reddish will not be a transformative star in the NBA

Jason Hirsch
15 Mar 2019, 11:16 IST

Wake Forest v Duke
Wake Forest v Duke

29%. That is the percentage of fourth overall picks between 1980 and 2017 that have accumulated into all-star caliber players (it is still too early to throw the 2018 fourth overall pick, Jaren Jackson Jr., into that percentage). Yes, you read that correctly. Basically, three out of every ten fourth overall picks amass into a great, franchise transformative player.

In this year’s upcoming NBA Draft, Duke forward, Cam Reddish, is being lined up as the 4th best draft prospect available (assuming he declares).

Ranked ahead of Reddish at the moment are his teammates, Zion Williamson, and R.J. Barrett, as well as Murray State's Ja Morant. Currently, the three worst teams in the NBA are the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Phoenix Suns. Two teams, the Knicks and Cavaliers are both desperate for anything close to a star player that they can muster.

The Suns, meanwhile, absolute lack of a point guard on their roster(they currently run Tyler Johnson out every night as their starting point guard…) is an area that needs immediate addressing.

That will leave Reddish as the top prospect left on the draft board for many teams. At this point, for whichever team has the fourth overall pick, it will come down to present vs potential on whether or not they will feel comfortable handing the keys to their franchise over to Reddish.

The first thing that you notice about Reddish has been his poor shooting at times this season. Last year, during his senior season at Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Reddish shot over 50% from both two-point and three-point range, while also shooting over 80% from the free throw line.

In the thirty games that Reddish has played at Duke this season, Reddish has shot 39% from two-point range, 33% from three-point range, and 76% from the free throw line. Sure, the adjustment from high school to college basketball is astronomical (and the jump from college basketball to the NBA is an even bigger leap than that), but to go from being a 50% shooter to under 40% is a giant drop in production.

NBA teams average right around 1.1 points per true shot. Shooting 35% from three-point range would earn you 1.05 points per true shot, which would make you the worst team offensively in the NBA.

Even worse, Reddish is a high volume three-point shooter who averages right around eight three-point shots attempted per game. That would average out to making around somewhere between two and three three-point shots made per game.


Statistically, Reddish’s PER (player efficiency rating; the rating of a player’s per-minute productivity) has been 14.5 this season at Duke. The average NBA player has a PER of 15.0. Reddish also sports a .127-win share per 40 minutes.

Thomas Walkup, a former member of the Stephen F. Austin Men’s Basketball Team, has the highest WS/40 in a single college basketball season at .3459 during the 2015-2016 college basketball season. That is nearly triple what Cam Reddish has.

Advanced Statistical Breakdown of Cam Reddish's Season at Duke.
Advanced Statistical Breakdown of Cam Reddish's Season at Duke.

When Chris Johnson wrote about Reddish during Reddish's senior season in high school, Johnson mentioned that one of the most apparent flaws in Reddish’s game, “He can be passive.”

Here we are, a year later, and when both Williamson and Barrett occupy the floor with Reddish for Duke, he allows them to steal the spotlight, being the alpha dogs that they are. When one or both are not the floor with Reddish (and Williamson has now missed several games with a knee sprain, which should have been the golden opportunity for Reddish to show the world that he can lead a team) he seems to look unsure of himself.

Whether it be silly turnovers or forcing up a bunch of bad shots, Reddish has not lived up to his billing as a truly elite NBA prospect.

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