A reflection on Cam Reddish’s rookie season

Cam Reddish sits courtside before the Atlanta Hawks game at State Farm Arena. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

Fresh off his rookie season, Cam Reddish has star potential written all over him. 

At 6 feet, 8 inches and 218 pounds, the former Duke Blue Devil held his own on the defensive end, guarding opponents’ best wing players. 

This past season, Reddish presented flashes of brilliance but also knew where he struggled. For most rookies in the NBA, adjusting to an 82-game season is not easy. The long flights and travel to unknown cities back-to-back can take a toll on your body. 

Some nights, rookies perform well and see baskets fall; other nights are the opposite. The NBA’s best players impact the game without the basketball, and Reddish already has that box checked off with his defense.

He has big goals for himself, and he knows what he is capable of.

“I definitely want to be known as one of the best two-way players,” Reddish told Sarah Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution back in May.

As he continues to gain more experience and build size, Reddish will become an elite defender in the NBA. Head coach Lloyd Pierce already trusts him with the most demanding defensive assignment each night he plays. 

Reddish’s locker was just a few feet away from Vince Carter’s, the now-retired 22-year veteran who spent his final two seasons with Atlanta Hawks. The 20-year old will miss a number of traits the future first-ballot Hall of Famer taught him during his rookie season. 

“[I will just miss] his voice really, you always felt his presence,” Reddish said last week during the Hawks mini-camp media availability. “Whether it’s practice, games, workouts, you could always feel his presence being there. 

Having the responsibility of guarding All-NBA players such as Paul George, James Harden and Jayson Tatum has taught him well. Reddish took pride in guarding the elites. Currently, in the NBA, you need at least one elite perimeter defender to contend for a championship, and Reddish fits the bill. 

Establishing a consistent jump shot and improving on his already exceptional defense will take the pressure off of Trae Young. Moreover, it helps elevate the Hawks’ energy on both ends of the floor and create energy on the offensive end.  

Reddish averaged 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists last season. While his finishing percentages were a measly 38% from the field and 33% from behind the three-point arc, he made great strides in the few months before the season ended. 

Reddish averaged 11.9 points on 40% shooting from three in January. He followed up with 13.4 points per game on 44% from the field in February, a substantial increase in his number from the season. 

Reddish’s final four games? 17.5 points per game on 55% from the field and 48% from three.

“His skill set is too advanced for him to not be able to score at this level,” Pierce told The AJC.

During his lone season at Duke, he averaged 13.5 points per game and was able to get his own shot with routine. The ability is there; now, what is important is for him to continue to hone his game.

It takes time to become a star or even become good in the NBA. One is lots of repetition and a need for talent. Reddish already has the talent going forward.