Before Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett took over the college basketball landscape, there were three five-star, can’t-miss NBA prospects in the Duke recruiting class. And in that now-famous drubbing of Kentucky in the Blue Devils’ season opener, Cam Reddish scored an efficient 22 points on 14 shots, three 3-pointers and four steals. Five days later against Army he poured in 25 points just two fewer than Williamson and two more than Barrett. That performance included seven 3-pointers, seven rebounds, three assists and two more steals.
It appeared as though Coach K had himself a three-headed monster and, for our purposes, a shot at history with the first three selections in the 2019 NBA Draft. But then Reddish went cold. Sure, he had big lines against some non-conference opponents (23 points against Stetson, 16 points against San Diego State) and he had a few top-level performances in ACC play (25 points and the game-winner at Florida State, 22 points at Louisville, 50 points in two losses to North Carolina). But where Williamson and Barrett became the talk of college basketball, Reddish faded into the background.
He finished his only season with the Blue Devils averaging 13.5 points on 35.6 percent shooting (and 33.3 percent from deep), 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists. He plummeted down big boards and mock drafts in the process, the same kid who was ranked higher than Williamson on 247 and Rivals among 2018 college prospects.
So, how does this affect Reddish’s draft stock? There are two schools of thought: Reddish never really found his rhythm because Williamson and Barrett rightfully dominated the ball at Duke. That would lead one to believe that Reddish’s best basketball is in front of him as he learns to play more off the ball in what would initially be a secondary scoring role.
Or, opposing defenses were so focused on Williamson and Barrett that Reddish should have been the most effective third option in the country, and wasn’t even close to it.
We’ll take the easy way out and say it’s probably somewhere in the middle. Let’s start with the good. Reddish is a gifted scorer. His numbers didn’t reflect as much – though he did post a handful of monster lines – and his shooting numbers were awful, especially for a 6-foot-8 player with a 7-foot-1 wingspan who should have and could have lived inside.
But there were two promising aspects of Reddish’s game that came in small-ish sample sizes: He averaged 1.114 points per possession on 44 pick-and-roll actions, which ranked in the 96th percentile nationally. Reddish is an above-average ball handler who clearly took advantage of mismatches, something that will help him at the pro level.
He was also a natural on the move, scoring 0.903 points per possession on 62 off-the-dribble jump shots, which slotted him in the 71st percentile nationally. This, of course, is never going to be a major part of any player’s offensive game – unless your name is James Harden – but in looking for signs of potential, the two numbers above are certainly positive signs. Reddish’s skill set is that of a pure scorer, and he seems to pick and choose his spots well.
On the subject of shooting, it wasn’t all good. At all. Williamson and Barrett did draw plenty of attention which left Reddish unguarded, per Synergy Sports, on 45 percent of his catch-and-shoot attempts. And yet, he averaged .847 points per possession on those attempts, which placed him in the 27th percentile nationally. He was in the 33rd percentile on spot-up shots, and that came on a whopping 193 possessions. Reddish’s mechanics aren’t broken in the least, but his prolonged cold spells were problematic.
He was relegated to a shooting role for much of the season but certainly has more potential than that. He’s a good ball handler who looks comfortable driving to the basket and is able to make plays off that – his finishing was an issue, as he made just 51.2 percent of his shots at the rim, but getting there wasn’t. He’s much more versatile than he was able to show in Durham.
He certainly looks the part of a potential lengthy defender capable of switching. That can’t be understated at the next level, though he’s far from a finished product.
So, where does he fit in Chicago? Those pick-and-roll numbers are intriguing when considering the Bulls have a future roll man in Wendell Carter and a pop man in Lauri Markkanen. Reddish could really make teams pay on the wing. Ultimately, his initial value will be made as a shooter and slasher on the wing. To that point, Reddish struggled mightily in his freshman season. But he’s probably worth a gamble given his frame, skill set and attitude.
Betting on potential at this stage in the Bulls' rebuild could be the move. They've hit on Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen the previous two drafts in what could be described as expected picks. Reddish would be a high-risk, high-reward selection at No. 7.