Every NBA team has a go-to guy, and there’s really only room for one. And it’s not strictly who takes the last-second shot. It’s the guy who regularly gets the ball when things are getting tense in the fourth; the guy expected to calm things down when teammates are getting sloppy; the guy called upon to snuff out an opponent’s rally, or spark a rally of his own; the guy who’s not just supposed to make shots, but make the right decisions.
Bottom line: Who do you want the offense to run through when everything is on the line? From #30 to #1, these are the League’s best go-to guys…
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This one was tricky. Normally, the rules I made up for this stipulate that the “go-to guy” is whoever will/should be Team X’s top option come Opening Night this upcoming season. With the Bucks, however, their clear and obvious go-to guy is hurt and probably won’t be back until December or January. So while he’ll be around for the majority of the schedule, in the meantime, who is Milwaukee’s safety valve? It’s probably Andrew Bogut, he of the career scoring average of 12 points per game. That’s a pending disaster.
But like the old adage says, you can’t lose your job due to injury. So while Michael Redd will be sidelined when the Bucks open their season, he’s still their go-to guy as far as I’m concerned. Let’s just say he’s on vacation.
So why is Redd at this spot? You have to begin with his outside shot, as he is one of the deadliest three-point shooters in the League. But like I wrote in the Redd vs. Ray Allen argument, his offensive game literally covers more ground than he’s given credit for. Last season, 34 percent of Redd’s field goal attempts were beyond the arc. (Lower than Chauncey Billups‘ 40% and Manu Ginobili‘s 42%, and they aren’t considered gunners.) In Redd’s last full season, ’07-08, only 28 percent of his attempts were three-pointers. In other words, he can score his 20 a night and still get buckets when his three isn’t dropping, since defenses can’t simply play him for the jumper when he can take it off the dribble.
In crunch time, Redd is a productive late-game scorer, an outstanding free-throw shooter (critical in the fourth quarter/overtime), and has a resume of big shots and games he’s taken over. In one of his last games before he tore his ACL and MCL, Redd dropped 44 points on Sacramento in a close win. Earlier in the year he had 25 and 10 boards in a close W over the Spurs, and scored 27 in a win against Utah, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Redd’s most memorable crunch-time performance was a 57-point outing against the Jazz a couple years ago, when he lit them up in the second half and led a Bucks comeback from a 25-point deficit before Deron Williams stole the win. When he’s on, he’ll go shot-for-shot with any scorer in the League, but his health is now a concern.
Realistically, the Bucks stunk last year and will stink again this year. With a stronger supporting cast Redd would be able to better show his wares as a go-to scorer, but in the same Catch-22 default go-to guys like Rip Hamilton, Nate Robinson and Boris Diaw find themselves in, going to a better team would mean Redd then becomes a No. 2 or No. 3 option.
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