NBA Media Day came and went and the regular season tip-off is right around the corner. Naturally, New York Knicks fans are eager not just to see the team play, but also to know who exactly they will be seeing on the court.
After all, Tom Thibodeau received no shortage of backlash from fans throughout the 2021-22 season due to how he divided the majority of the minutes on the roster. Perhaps one of the biggest question marks on this year’s roster is Cam Reddish, who joined the team last season before the trade deadline.
Reddish spent much of last season barely seeing the court after he was traded to New York. He certainly had flashes of potential, even seeing his minutes increase later on in the season, but that was until he suffered a shoulder injury that brought his momentum to a complete halt as he missed the rest of the year.
What does Knicks’ Cam Reddish need to do to see the court this season?
Well, apparently, not even Cam Reddish knows the answer to that. During training camp, he said:
"“I’m still figuring that out. That’s actually a really good question,” Reddish said. “I’m still figuring that out, trying to find my role where I fit in. I’m really willing to do whatever it takes to win. Whatever that role is, whatever it may be, that’s fine with me. We’re winning, we all look good.”"
Now, whether or not it should concern Knicks fans that the coaching staff has seemingly not communicated to one of their young players what he must do to see more minutes on the court is a different story.
In the Knicks’ preseason opener, Reddish was allowed to run significant minutes in the absence of Quentin Grimes. He played a large portion of the first half and again showed stints of the upside that had him so highly touted as a prospect. But yet again, Reddish’s opportunity was cut short by misfortune as he hurt his ankle and missed the rest of the game.
But what should Cam be doing to accomplish the daunting task of getting a permanent spot in Thibodeau’s rotation? We might be able to answer that question by looking at what his teammates have done in the past to do just that.
How can Cam Reddish crack the Knicks rotation this season?
The first way that Cam Reddish can impress the coaching staff is with effort, and not just effort in games. It all starts with effort in the gym by showing up to practice early, leaving late, and playing practice scrimmages like real games. If he wants to play, he’s going to have to show that his work ethic cannot be ignored.
The next step goes hand in hand with effort on the court. Cam must be brilliant on the defensive side of the ball. Defense is certainly a feat that Reddish can accomplish. The 23-year-old forward has been cited with defensive upside comparisons to Paul George, an all-defensive team talent. It probably won’t be enough for Reddish to just be a good defender, he will have to be among the team’s best defenders.
In Tuesday’s game, we saw examples of how solid Reddish can be on that side of the floor. He was draped over defenders. He’s the perfect size for switching from small guards to big forwards, and he had active hands resulting in steals or forced turnovers (although he didn’t end up with any individual steals himself).
Finally, Reddish should look to improve his efficiency. He shot 25% from the arc on two attempts for the Knicks this past season. While it is understandably difficult to stay in rhythm from distance with scarce minutes, Reddish must take advantage of the minutes he gets this year.
Unfortunately, Reddish showed he still has work to do when it comes to his shot. Against Detroit, Reddish shot 1-for-6 from the field with his one field goal being a three-pointer at the beginning of the game. It was apparent throughout the game that Reddish couldn’t find shots within the flow of the offense, which led him to force tough contested jumpers. If Reddish is to get his efficiency as a scorer to rise, he will have to take shots that are a product of ball movement and play design.
Admittedly, Cam Reddish’s journey to center court will require him to do much more than he probably should have to, but can he do it? I think so, and I am sure that plenty of Knicks fans think the same, too.