Last year, Duke basketball was all about Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett – with a sprinkle of Cam Reddish. Williamson was the next big thing coming out of college, and Barrett was a close second right beside him. Though Reddish had the intangibles to be better than both of them, he was never given the opportunity nor credit.
This continued through the draft process, with Williamson and Barrett being for sure top 3 picks. Reddish found himself jumping in and out of the top 5, due to his perceived lack of “motor” and dedication to the game. So when draft night came around, there was no surprise Zion went first and RJ went second.
For Reddish, whoever drafted him was getting a steal, and he dropped at the right spot with the Atlanta Hawks at No. 10.
Which rookie will have the best career?
Recently, the rookies had a vote on who would win Rookie of the Year and of course that went to Zion. What may come as a surprise is when they voted for who would have the best career out of the rookie class, it was not Zion.
For starters, neither him or RJ sniffed the top in this category. It was Cam Reddish, who finished with the best odds to have the best career of the class. Ja Morant came second, and DeAndre Hunter was third. To say Reddish will have the best career is not a reach: He has everything he needs to become a great player in the league.
Yes, Williamson and Barrett may bring the excitement, but Reddish gives you that plus a long range of skills that some in this draft class don’t possess.
A diverse skillset
Every rookie will bring a something different dynamic to their respective teams. Zion will bring a slashing, dunking skillset to the Pelicans. R.J. has a score first, “break you down” mentality that he will bring to the Knicks.
Ja Morant will be a floor general for the Grizzlies, making plays for his teammates. What if I told you that Cam has the ability to do all these things that these top 3 rookies have in their arsenal?
Reddish’s 6-foor-8 height, 7-foot wing span will allow him to do almost anything he wants on the court. Add that with his smooth shooting, and you have a player that could be dangerous offensively in the future.
Zion hasn’t developed a consistent jumpshot yet, so all he has is his athleticism to go off of for now. Morant is still getting his mechanics right on offense, but he doesn’t look to be that type of player. When you think of Morant, players like Russell Westbrook and John Wall come to mind. R.J may be the closest to offensively sound as Reddish, but he showed that he could be inefficient at times when the ball is in his hand a lot.
Reddish had to be a slasher at times at Duke because he was the third option. He also has the ability to go iso and get a bucket. And if you need him to run the show, he has the experience (just watch his high school tape).
A well-fit organization
Sometimes it’s not all about the skills that you have, but how are you being utilized? Are you in the right system? Does your play compliment the teammates around you? Look no further than the Atlanta Hawks, one of the up and coming organizations that looks ready to contend in the future.
The Hawks have shown that they could bring the best out of any player, even before the Travis Schlenk days. The Hawks turned Paul Millsap into an All-Star. DeMarre Carroll and Tim Hardaway Jr. had their best career seasons as Hawks, and they received big pay days due to that.
Fast forward to the current Hawks, and you have the likes of DeAndre Bembry, Alex Len, and John Collins taking major leaps in their games. DeAndre Hunter was the Hawks fourth overall pick, and he was third on the list who would have the best career. The Hawks just have a niche for developing talent, and it’s finally going on notice.
Reddish stepped in the best opportunity for his career with the Hawks, and his game will do nothing but improve with this team. With a player like Trae Young who’s unselfish and willing to be a team player, this could possibly open up Reddish’s game to another level.
When you look at the other top rookies and their respective teams, you’re just not sure if they’ll get the best out of them. With David Griffin taking the helms as the G.M. in New Orleans, there’s a possibility he could put the right pieces around Zion to succeed.
Griffin showed during his time in Cleveland he can make big trades and signings to secure a championship. Already, he’s acquired Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart from the Lakers. He was able to sign J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors in the offseason. With this team, the Pelicans have the potential to be one of the most exciting young teams to blossom in the future.
The Grizzlies have been a consistent running organization for years with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol in their hands, but with both of them are gone now how will things go? The New York Knicks have been a mess for years, and it already looks like they’re going down the wrong path after striking out on all their potential free agents this season.
Not in the spotlight
Depending on the player, not everybody can perform under pressure. Zion Williamson is in a position where all the hype is surrounding him to be this once in lifetime player since LeBron James. If his career doesn’t pan out that way, the noise from the outside could get to him and affect his game.
What if the same thing happens to Barrett, a top rookie coming into a swarm of ruthless reporters asking whatever they feel. For Reddish, he won’t be in either of these predicaments.
For one, Reddish is not expected to be the “guy” on the Hawks. They’ll most likely bring him on slowly, and as he gets more comfortable he’ll get more opportunities. The media in Atlanta won’t be crazy like New York, so he’ll have some leg room to breathe.
It seems like players perform the best when they don’t have a target on their back. Donovan Mitchell ring a bell? Kyle Kuzma? John Collins?
This is not to take away from any of the players skills, they’ll be successful on their respective teams. And it’s true: Zion, Ja, or R.J. will have the best chance to win Rookie of the Year this season. But when talking about having a better career, Cam Reddish has everything working for him right now.
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