SLAMonline Top 50: Michael Redd, no. 43

by September 08, 2008

by Khalid Salaam

He’s won an Olympic Gold Medal now, which is akin to winning an Emmy. I’ll finish this analogy by saying winning an NBA Championship is like winning an Oscar (you got that, right?).

The point I’m making is Michael Redd is a good player and at times a great scorer, but may have been somewhat overrated in the last few years. He shouldn’t have been considered a top-tier guy to begin with, but I can see how the mistake created itself.

Redd was caught in the same no man’s land that a segment of the NBA always gets caught in. He’s too talented to be a rotation guy but not quite dominant or consistent enough to be a star. Yet these sorts of players always ask and expect to be paid like stars. They also tend to – by the very nature of the League and its financial conditions – drive fans nutty (I make no blanket judgments on a player’s market value. I’m just making an observation).

Players like Redd are better suited as being the man next to the man, but if your team is bereft of talent, then it often gets trapped in the middle. If you follow the planetary sciences, you know planets revolve around stars (Earth revolves around the star known as Sol. Think of the name we call it, the Sun, as something like a nickname) and under them are dwarf stars – great in size and power but nothing compared to their superior counterpart. In NBA terms, Redd is a dwarf star (as are all of the names you’ll find at this point in the Top 50).

If you don’t pay these secondary stars big money, they may leave or sulk. You need them to play – and play happy – so your real stars can function at their top ability. Of course, it’s hard to come to a common ground about what to pay these kinds of players since paying them too much may alienate your real stars and/or leave you with too little money to sign rotation players.

This is Michael Redd in a nutshell.

During the early years, he was considered a find – an up-and-coming guy with a sweet outside stroke who could potentially be a key component of a contending team. But once he signed a $90 million deal back in ’05, people expected him to be great – to be a franchise player – and not just part of the puzzle. Andrew Bogut and the since-departed Mo Williams were thought to be pieces to build around Redd, but things never coalesced in Milwaukee.

Redd put-up the following numbers last season:

Finished eighth overall in points per game (22.7 per), started 71 games, 4.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, shot 44 percent from the filed, 36 percent from 3-point territory and 82 percent from the foul line. (He’s been solid his entire career, once dropping 57-points in a game against the Jazz in ’06 and making the 2004 All-Star Game).

That resulted in 26 wins, however. An assortment of problems explains the Bucks’ mediocre record, but Redd’s name was firmly in trade talks up until the Bucks brought-in former Nets star Richard Jefferson, a player also in that dwarf/lesser star category. So now what?

I mentioned that he scores well, but here’s what he’s not so great at. He’s an average defender and can regularly be contained by second-tier defensive talents. He’s also not much of a motivating force – he watched the Bucks settle for being regular last year. The upside is he’s in his prime (his age of 29 is hidden by a rapid ascension into baldness. I’m not clowning him by the way, just saying…), and a summer spent surrounded by the competitive types such as LeBron, Chris Paul and Kobe should push anybody to the next level mentally…in theory.

New Bucks coach Scott Skiles is known to push guys, and the team seems like it’s more prepared to compete than last season. His ability to stretch the floor with his outside shooting and overall scoring ability should put the team in playoff contention. Whether or not the Bucks qualify for the postseason will disprove or confirm his placement on our list. We’ll soon find out.

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