Cam Reddish must have felt rather strange watching Saturday’s game between the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.
Two days after the Hawks sent Reddish to the Big Apple, the Knicks headed to Atlanta to take on the former Duke star’s former team. The Knicks earned a victory, and now Reddish hopes to develop into something he could never become in Atlanta: A star.
After a surprising 2020-21 season made them the toast of the NBA, the struggling Knicks (22-21) are desperate to build momentum. That appears to start with Reddish, who declared his willingness to bet on himself as he prepares for a new chapter. Knicks fans must hope his words bear fruit sooner rather than later.
Cam Reddish feels he can be a star with the Knicks
New York is a city of bright lights and intense scrutiny. As Julius Randle knows all too well, the pressure can weigh on players and create frustration. However, Cam Reddish seems to welcome the spotlight.
Reddish made his first public comments (h/t the New York Post) since joining the Knicks before Saturday’s game against the Hawks. He offered a rather poignant message.
“I feel like I can be a star. I feel like I could be a legit star. That’s what I’m working to be. It’s pretty simple.”–Cam Reddish, via the New York Post
The 22-year-old struggled to get steady minutes on an Atlanta squad loaded with wing depth. But the inconsistent playing time does not seem to have wavered Reddish’s confidence in the slightest.
“I think I’m still on track,” Reddish said when asked about realizing his star potential, per the NY Post. “I’ll continue to put the work in. I think I’m still there for sure.”
The insistence is admirable for a guy who has been somewhat polarizing since the pre-draft process in 2010. However, it’s entirely true that Reddish has loads of untapped potential.
How high is the ceiling?
Cam Reddish has shown off his upside in bursts since the Duke days. The issue is that those bursts come few and far between.
Reddish appeared ready to make an impact for the Hawks in his third season after a tremendous playoff showing in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. But the seemingly permanent fluctuation in minutes has borne out some struggles. Through his first 34 games, Reddish made just 42.1% of his twos. He saw a decline in minutes and rebounding production, though his 3-point efficiency is up quite a bit.
What can Knicks fans make of the talented swingman?
Reddish has tremendous athleticism. He can explode to the rim off the dribble and changes directions with ease. He also fills space and moves without the ball fairly well. The downside is that athleticism has largely gone for naught because of shaky finishing at the rim which, in turn, amplifies his midrange struggles.
According to NBA.com, Reddish has converted on just 27.9% of his midrange efforts and only 34.8% of his attempts in the painted area, not including the restricted area. That lackluster efficiency mitigates his ability to get to the rim and create off the bounce.
Perhaps if Reddish offered more playmaking, the Knicks could overlook the inefficiency. However, he is averaging just 1.9 assists per 36 minutes for his career.
Additionally, while Reddish has the length and quickness to become an elite defender, one scout told the NY Post that they feel the third-year forward lacks a “high motor” on that end of the floor.
Now, head coach Tom Thibodeau is sure to demand more of Reddish, especially on defense. But after making a mess of Kevin Knox’s development, can New York unlock Reddish’s full potential?
The Knicks need to do a better job cultivating young talent
The New York Knicks have often struggled to develop their young players. Knox, who went to Atlanta in the Reddish deal, is a good example there. Obi Toppin is still a bit of a project after showing signs earlier in the season. And while RJ Barrett is in the midst of the best stretch in his young career, he’s also been prone to fits of inconsistency.
New York cannot afford to make the same mistake with Reddish.
Killer Cam has the physical attributes and basketball gifts to become, in his own words, a “legit” two-way star. The Knicks need to do everything in their power to give him every possible avenue to succeed. That could mean enduring some early growing pains.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau will need to exhibit patience. But if New York is willing to take on the valleys with the peaks, then Reddish could soon become a top attraction at Madison Square Garden.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.