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Untapped Potential: Cam Reddish

Soobum Im / USA TODAY Sports

Cam Reddish has experienced many ebbs and flows throughout his basketball career at the ripe age of 23. Reddish still has the respect of his peers and coaches around the league despite that off the strength of his untapped potential.

High School asked future first overall pick Anthony Edwards in 2019 about his toughest defensive assignment in high school.

“Cam Reddish,” Edwards immediately responded.

Reddish and the Westtown School faced off against Edwards and Holy Spirit Prep at the National HoopFest on December 10th in 2017 at Dematha Catholic High School in Washington, D.C. 

“I’m not gonna say how much he gave us but it was more than 40 points,” Edwards said.

Reddish scored a career-high 53 points against Holy Spirit Prep after scoring 34 points the day before against Georgetown Prep, while Edwards scored 23 points of his own.

Reddish finished that season as the third ranked high school prospect in the class of 2018 behind future Duke teammates R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson.


Third Fiddle

Reddish was touted as a surefire top-five pick in the 2019 NBA Draft before the 2018-2019 college basketball season along with Barrett and Williamson.

Teammates Barrett and Williamson dominated college basketball as freshmen. Both players averaged 22.6 points per game. On the other hand, Reddish was an afterthought who left scouts and fans alike wanting more out of him. Reddish was often criticized for being too deferential to his fellow freshmen. But Reddish thought differently about those criticisms.

Maria Taylor, a former reporter for ESPN asked Reddish about the biggest misconception of his game during a pre-draft interview.

“That I’m passive. I don’t think I’m passive,” Reddish said. “I just think I was in a different role trying to adjust throughout this year. But I think it was well needed. I think it’s going to prepare me for the next level.”


Mike Schmitz, a former scout at DraftExpress and now an assistant general manager for the Portland Trail Blazers added to the narrative of Reddish’s up and down play.

“Reddish’s season was as uneven as any top recruit in recent memory with far too many no-show games, a 50.3 true shooting percentage, and the inability to offer any sense of consistency on a team that badly needed shooting and steady play,” said Schmitz.

Reddish averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.6 steals a game on 35/33/77 shooting splits.

That “uneven” season caused many scouts and fans alike to have differing opinions on the type of pro he could eventually become.

Draft Prospect

Jonathan Givony, also a scout at DraftExpress had his own remarks regarding Reddish as a prospect.

“Cam is a polarizing player. Depending on which teams you talk to, some will tell you that he’s Rodney Hood and some will tell you that he’s Paul George,” said Givony. “He’s always taken a backseat his whole career to other players. Is he the type of guy you pick in the top five and you try to build your franchise around?”

Jay Williams, a Duke basketball legend and a current ESPN analyst, believed Reddish was the biggest wildcard in the 2019 NBA Draft and thought highly of his potential.

“Cam Reddish is the biggest enigma in the draft. Cam Reddish has the potential to be the best pro prospect in this class,” Williams said.


2019 NBA Draft

Reddish was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the tenth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Jay Bilas, an ESPN NBA Draft analyst, believed Reddish possessed the talent to be a higher pick than he actually was.

“I think Cam Reddish is a top five talent,” stated Bilas. “He checks every box in the NBA. He’s 6’9”, he’s got a wingspan of over seven feet, he’s got a beautiful shooting stroke, he’s got NBA range as a shooter. His length and athleticism really help him as a defender.”

Bilas’ main critique about Reddish was “consistency” or lack thereof. 

“Consistency is the issue. Consistency of effort, consistency of production” said Bilas. “He had the lowest player efficiency (13.6 PER) rating of any player in the lottery. He’s got to get more mature as a player. But he’s only 18-19 years old. He’s got a long way to go in that regard but so do a number of players in this draft. He’s got a ton of talent.”

A Cold Start In Hotlanta

The same consistency issues that analysts and scouts critiqued Reddish for throughout his freshman season at Duke followed him to the NBA. 

Through his first three months in the NBA, Reddish averaged 7.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists on 29/21/79 shooting splits.

Reddish started to look more like the tenth overall pick once the calendar turned to 2020 and it showed in his stats. Reddish averaged 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists on 46% from the field and 40% from three point range starting in January until the leagues stoppage on March 11th.

In an interview with former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Richard Jefferson, Reddish reflected on his rookie season.

“It was a rollercoaster. It went super fast. I just feel like I learned a ton. I started out horrible, slow…. so I can only go up,” Reddish said.

Sophomore Season

Reddish saw limited action during his second year as a pro after a promising end to his rookie season. Reddish played just 26 games through February 21st of 2021 for the Hawks before he was shut down for the remainder of the season with an achilles injury.

The former Blue Devil finished the regular season averaging 11.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals on 36% from the field, 26% from three point range, and 81% from the free throw line.

Playoff Run

In his first career playoff game, Reddish scored eleven points in seventeen minutes in a 125-91 blowout at the Fiserv Forum against the Milwaukee Bucks.  

Although Reddish didn’t appear in the game three, he was up for the challenge in game four as he played smothering defense against Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton. Both players were held to 6 for 17 shooting. Holiday and Middleton scored nineteen and sixteen points respectively. Reddish scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds, and nabbed two steals.

Reddish didn’t have as much of a statistical impact in game five in the Hawks’ 123-112 loss but followed that up with his best playoff performance to date in game six with a chance to force game seven in Milwaukee.

The Pennsylvania product provided a spark off the bench in a comeback effort with the Hawks’ backs against the ropes. Reddish scored a playoff career-high 21 points while grabbing three rebounds, and dishing out three assists.

Unfortunately, the Hawks’ effort fell short as they fell to the Bucks in six games. Reddish finished the series averaging 12.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.5 steals on 52% from the field, 64% from three point range and 80% from the free throw line.

Growing Pains

The Hawks were off to a slow start while Reddish showed marginal progression with some inconsistent performances. The Hawks held a 17-23 record through 40 games and were suffering through a three-game losing streak in the process. 

Reddish was traded right after to the New York Knicks with Solomon Hill, a 2025 second-round pick, and cash considerations for Kevin Knox and a protected future first-round pick. The trade reunited Reddish with former Duke teammate Barrett.

Make Or Break

MSG analyst Alan Hahn gave his assessment on a now 23-year-old Reddish before the 2022-2023 NBA season.

“He’s 23 years old now. He’s in the last season of his rookie deal, which means he’s literally playing for his future,” said Hahn. “If there’s ever a time for him to show up in the best shape of his life, in the best mindset and determined to take jobs and command playing time, it would be now.”

Hahn, like a lot of basketball analysts, acknowledged Reddish’s potential and physical tools but also noticed something missing from him.

“Ask any scout and they’ll tell you, Cam is an enigma” stated Hahn. “All the physical tools to be a prototype wing in today’s game and yet there’s something missing. Something inconsistent.”

More Flashes

Reddish looked every bit like the prospect analysts and scouts spoke highly of throughout his high school and college career on the opening night of the 2022-2023 season.

Reddish scored 22 points on an efficient 9 of 15 shooting; including a left corner three to force overtime.

Unfortunately, Reddish wouldn’t score twenty plus points again until November 13th in a 145-135 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Madison Square Garden. Reddish scored 26 points on 10 of 17 shooting while also grabbing four steals in a losing effort. 

Lost In The Shuffle

Reddish lost his starting job to second-year shooting guard Quentin Grimes after starting in eight consecutive games and fell out of Tom Thibodeau’s rotation along with Derrick Rose and Evan Fournier.

Reddish racked up thirty-three consecutive DNP-CDs (Did not play- coach’s decision) from December 4th to February 7th of 2023. 

Thibodeau explained his decision to shorten his rotation to be beneficial for the team.

“We’re always going to do what we think is best for the team,” Thibodeau said. “So I want to prioritize that. And that doesn’t mean it’s permanent. It just means that’s where we are right now. Whatever gives us the best chance to win, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Reddish finished his time for the Knicks averaging 8.4 points, 2.2 steals, 1.6 assists, and 1.0 steals a game on 44/30/87 shootings splits.

Rip City Reddish

Reddish was traded to the Trail Blazers in a four- team trade with the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, and Philadelphia 76ers on February 9th.

Reddish’s new coach Chauncey Billups could relate to the experience of being shipped around the league while figuring out their niche in the NBA.

“I know where he’s at. I’ve been that in my career at a young age….given up on several times and really just trying to find my way,” Billups acknowledged.

Billups was a former lottery pick like Reddish who played on three different teams by the age of 23. However, Billups eventually turned his career and reputation around with the help of the late Flip Saunders who coached Billups in his fourth and fifth NBA stops, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Detroit Pistons.

Billups believes he along with the rest of the Blazers’ staff can help turn Reddish’s career around as Saunders did for him.

“I think the kid has a ton of potential and I believe in our system,” Billups said. “I believe in our developmental program….our whole staff and we’ll just see.”

Reflecting on New York

Reddish’s career in New York didn’t go the way he or Knick fans hoped and he didn’t hold back on his true feelings on his experience as a Knick.

“I can shoot a shot—and in New York, I feel like I HAD to make it… Now I can relax and play my game. You’re going to see it. The more I’m on the court, the more I’m going to grow and play. I’m happy,” Reddish said.

Reddish acknowledged that he’s grateful for his new opportunity for the Blazers.

“I’m in a completely different place,” Reddish said. “Now I’m blessed. Not everybody gets another opportunity so it’s refreshing. I got some great teammates. Great staff. It’s real positive around here. Win, lose or draw. It’s not somebody beating you over your head — not that that was happening in New York—but it’s more my style.”

Signs of Promise

Reddish currently averages 10.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 steals a game on 44% from the field, 33% from beyond the arc, and 83% from the free throw line in nineteen contests as a member of the Trail Blazers.

Reddish will become a free agent this summer without a contract extension on the table. Reddish’s recent performances will have teams including the Blazers determined to take a flyer on the 23-year-old.

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