J.J. Redick is the 41st Best Player in Basketball

Redick 50

Throughout the offseason, Pick and Popovich will rank the top 50 players in the NBA. To be clear, these are 50 best players for the 2016-17 season, regardless of team situation, past performance or future potential. If you’re trying to win a championship in 2016-17, these are the 50 players you’d want most. 

Why He’s GreatJ.J. Redick might’ve just had the second-best shooting season in NBA history. He became just the second player ever to make at least 200 three-pointers and shooting 47.5% or better from long range. Only Kyle Korver has ever done that, but you completely didn’t notice because of everything Stephen Curry did.

But shooting is far from Redick’s only contribution. He’s one of the more underrated defenders in basketball. Opposing shooters shot 3.3% worse against Redick than against an average defender and the Clippers’ defense was 3.3 points per 100 possessions worse without Redick on the floor than with him. He’s one of the more physical defenders of his size in basketball and he never gets any credit for it.

He can even dribble a little bit! He made 53.4% of shots on drives last season and averaged two per game. That’s not a huge number, but it’s added value. Most catch-and-shooters can’t move with the ball. That Redick can makes him that much more dangerous.

Redick’s reputation is based largely on opinions formed when he was in college. It’s stupid. He’s one of the best two-way players in basketball and it’s time we started treating him like it.

Why He’s Below No. 40 (Kristaps Porzingis): Because all of those things Redick does well, Porzingis does too. And Porzingis is 7’3”. A 7’3” shooter/dribbler/defender is more important than a  6’4” shooter/dribbler/defender.

Plus, Redick is getting older. He’s 32 and has played 10 seasons. Shooting ages well, but other skills don’t. He’s going to start wearing down, and his foot was hurt far worse than anyone believed at the time. There’s every reason to believe that he’s going to get better and have a great season, but most of the players on this list are in their 20’s. Redick is at a disadvantage against them.

And Redick’s skills are inherently complementary. Yes, he can dribble, but he can dribble in the way that Scooby Doo can speak. It’s technically true but would you want Scooby Doo giving a lecture on particle physics? No, because his English is great for a dog but crappy by normal standards. Redick’s best skills work far better with great teammates than they do with crappy ones. He never has to defend the best guard on the other team, he gets plenty of open three’s, these are things that happen when you play with Chris Paul. Redick can’t be blamed for that, but he loses some credit. Paul makes everyone look great.

Derrick Favors is the 42nd Best Player in Basketball

Favors 50

Throughout the offseason, Pick and Popovich will rank the top 50 players in the NBA. To be clear, these are 50 best players for the 2016-17 season, regardless of team situation, past performance or future potential. If you’re trying to win a championship in 2016-17, these are the 50 players you’d want most. 

Why He’s Great: More than any other player in basketball, you know exactly what to expect out of Derrick Favors every night:

  • 16-20 points.
  • 8-10 rebounds.
  • B+ or better defense.
  • Brick wall screens.

Boom. It’s that simple. That’s what you’re getting. Favors scored in single digits only six times last season despite averaging only 16 points per game. That’s consistency at the highest level, though he’s still more than capable of carrying an offense for a game or two.

It’s nearly impossible to accurately measure Favors’ impact as a rim protector because he plays next to Rudy Gobert, but that in itself makes a point about the quality of his overall defense. He’s slowly becoming a switcher, learning the nuance of guarding smaller players in bits and pieces over the past year and a half. He’s above-average already and getting better. Should Utah decide to dedicate more of their defense to switching or blitzing, Favors is up to the task.

And then there’s his low-post game, underrated both narratively and statistically. Yes, Favors only scored 0.86 points per possession on post ups last season, but he did that through injuries and on a team with some of the worst spacing in basketball. Just think about it for a second. How is a defense going to treat Favors posting up when Gobert is on the floor? They’re just going to double Favors and ignore Rudy. Favors is a good passer but not good enough to make up for one of the worst offensive players in basketball. That he can generate any scoring at all under the circumstances is simply remarkable.

Why He’s Below No. 41 (J.J. Redick): Redick can play in any lineup. Favors might not be able to. He isn’t the dinosaur some make him out to be, but he has trouble with smaller bigs like Draymond Green and is likely the odd man out defensively against small lineups in general as he and Gobert simply aren’t good enough offensively to justify playing together.

He has some range on his jumper, and there have been whispers about him developing a corner-three, but until it actually happens he’s just always going to struggle to stay on the court late in modern NBA games. Bigs have done it before, but Paul Millsaps are rare. Favors is never going to be great at defending smaller players no matter how much better he gets and he’s likely never going to provide enough spacing to share the floor with Gobert. He’d simply be better off on another team, something that shouldn’t affect these rankings, but it’s hard to know how good he really is on a Utah team with such a cramped floor.

Plus, he committed a cardinal basketball sin last season. The Jazz were better with him off of the court. Utah had a +1.1 net rating with him on the floor and a +2.0 net rating without him. I can’t offer a good explanation for that, but it’s just very damning. You can’t make the top-40 without a real reason for your team playing better without you. Roster construction plays a part, but that still looks very bad.