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2021-22 Atlanta Hawks Player Preview: Cam Reddish

After a difficult sophomore season, Reddish looks to bounce-back.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Milwaukee Bucks v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Cam Reddish’s NBA career so far has been a bit of a turbulent journey.

Drafted No. 10 overall in 2019 — coming to Atlanta via the Dallas Mavericks stemming from the 2018 Trae Young-Luka Doncic flip — Reddish really struggled during the opening months of his career before enjoying an upswing in form beginning at the beginning of 2020. Reddish was playing to a very decent level on both ends of the floor (more so shooting the ball offensively) before the 2019-20 season was suspended, and the Hawks’ season officially over as they were left uninvited to the bubble in Orlando.

Atlanta was left waiting a long time before they officially returned to the court with but were also left with a lot of excitement at the prospect of their roster heading into a new season — whenever it began. Reddish’s reversal in form compared to the beginning of the season was part of that cause for strong optimism heading as he headed his second season on the heels of a good run of form prior to the stoppage.

But the 2020-21 season did not live up to expectation for Reddish. His biggest issue of the season was health, playing just 26 out of the Hawks’ 72 regular season games. Reddish underwent a non-surgical procedure on his Achilles in March before returning during the playoffs in the Eastern Conference Finals.

While Reddish’s season was predominately marred by injury, even when he did play during the regular season, his standard of play was overall poor, particularly offensively. His Achilles soreness would have definitely played its part, but in other aspects Reddish looked like that rookie from the first few months of the 2019-20 season. Poor decision making, reckless drives, poor shooting — these were some of the aspects Reddish struggled with when he was on the court.

Honestly, it had been a disaster second season but Reddish did flash some positives in the Milwaukee series which will give fans hope in the four games he played, setting up a similar scenario that Reddish faced at the end of his rookie season. Given how Reddish has began seasons poorly in his two seasons so far in the NBA, a strong start to the campaign would go a long way.

Reddish’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors of late, which would be contrary to the ‘untouchable’ label some fans have placed upon him in his first two seasons. Now heading into his third season, it really does feel like a ‘make-or-break’ season for Reddish. Should he struggle in his third year, it would be interesting to see what that might mean for his Atlanta Hawks future.

First and foremost ahead of Reddish’s third season, he has to be able to stay on the court. He was able to do this in his rookie year so it remains to be seen if last year was just a fluke. It would be beneficial for the Hawks if Reddish was available to play, regardless if he was part of Nate McMillan’s rotation or not (the Hawks never really got to see their full rotation with Reddish, De’Andre Hunter etc.).

When he is on the court, Reddish should excel defensively and provide a boost on that end but offensively it would be massively beneficial if Reddish improves in decision-making offensively, shot selection and efficiency for starters. The Hawks don’t need him to score 20 points per game but they do need him to not be a black hole offensively with efficiency like last season.

Last season, Reddish shot 36% from the field on 10.1 field goal attempts and 26.2% from three on just under five attempts. The sample size isn’t enormous of course given the injury layoff that forced Reddish to miss a lot of time, but those percentages have to be better next season, there’s no way around it.

There’s belief that Reddish can be this elite defender with potential offensively — a two-way player in the NBA. His third campaign may go a ways to proving to perhaps not even just the Atlanta Hawks but the rest of the NBA.

A very important season lies ahead for Reddish as he looks to put a difficult 2020-21 season behind him and prove why so many believe in his potential.