Philadelphia 76ers: J.J. Redick jump-started the process to contention

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After 15 years in the NBA split over six different teams, ex-Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard J.J. Redick has officially announced his retirement from professional basketball.

Redick appeared in 1,050 games with 558 starts, led the league in 3 point shooting in 2015-16, and held the rare distinction of making the playoffs in every one of his professional seasons until that streak was unfortunately dashed by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019-20.

Controversial? Oh, you know it, but for the entirety of the 2010s, very few shooting guards were as efficient from beyond the arc as the pride of Duke University.

And for a wonderfully weird period from 2017-19, J.J. Redick was a member of the Philadelphia 76ers and played a massive role in transforming Brett Brown‘s squad from perennial losers to playoff darlings.

J.J. Redick headlined a regrettably short-era of Philadelphia 76ers basketball.

With basically unlimited money to spend and burgeoning superstar in the making by the name of Joel Embiid locked in at the five spot, collar enthusiast/general manager Bryan Colangelo wanted to put the Philadelphia 76ers’ losing ways behind them once and for all and finally field a playoff-caliber team for the first time since 2012.

But how? With the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Ben Simmons, set to return from a season-ending injury, and a former Sam Hinkie lottery pick, Dario Saric, entering his second season stateside after an extended stay in the EuroLeague, the Sixers were stocked fairly well in the way of supersized playmakers but what they lacked most of all – no offense to Robert Covington – was shooting.

So naturally, when free agency opened up, Colangelo did the logical thing and offered the best shooter on the market, J.J. Redick, a one-year, $23 million deal to forgo a role on a traditional contender for a massive role on a young, upstart team with deceptive potential.

Fun fact: Redick made more in his first season with the Sixers than he did in his previous three with the Clippers. I imagine that wasn’t a particularly tough decision to make.

For Philly, this was a massive W.

Redick had just finished out four seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers where he averaged 15.8 points while draining 44 percent of his 5.8 3 point shots a night. He had a reputation for being an effective off-ball screener, knew how to play off of a unique point forward by the name of Blake Griffin, and, most importantly of all, knew how to win basketball games.

Once Redick rolled into town, the wins followed. The Sixers matched their 2016-17 win total by mid-February, received a serious mid-season injection of talent with Atlanta Hawks castoffs Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, and most importantly/improbably of all, finished out the regular season with 52 wins and the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

Logging the fourth-most minutes on the team, most of which were logged alongside Embiid, Redick finished out the regular season with the second-most points per game on the team at 17.1 while leading everyone on the roster in made 3s with an average of 2.8. One of the few players on the roster with any legitimate postseason experience, Redick upped his game under the brighter lights of playoff basketball, averaging 18.2 points in 34.2 minutes of action a night.

Granted, Redick alone wasn’t enough to get the Sixers to the Eastern Conference Finals, as they were gentlemanly swept by the Boston Celtics in five, but he certainly did enough to earn a second, albeit less lucrative deal to return to the City of Brotherly Love for a second season.

Season two? Basically just as good as season one.

Redick’s relationship with Embiid continued to grow, with the All-Star center lamenting that he couldn’t play the rest of his career with his favorite pick-and-pop partner due to his advanced age, and once again, he burst out to a hot start right out of the gate.

Only this time, he had help.

With Colangelo gone and Elton Brand wheelin’ and dealin’ like a darn 2K GM, Embiid and Redick rapidly found themselves in a starting five featuring Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris, as they breezed through the back-half of their schedule on their way to the playoffs and ended up a third-seed yet again. They took down the Brooklyn Nets with ease, turned in some strong performances against the Toronto Raptors, and came a quadruple-doink away from representing the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Milwaukee Bucks.

Would there be another banner hanging in the rafters had that ball fallen a different way? Maybe so but fortunately, fans were treated to yet another season of star-studded basketball in South Philly the following season when the team ran it back and took another shot at the… oh wait, actually that didn’t happen. Butler was sign-and-traded to the Miami Heat for Josh Richardson, Al Horford was signed to take his place, and J.J. Redick wasn’t offered a competitive contract to return to the Sixers.

dark. Next. Ben Simmons doesn’t like us, we don’t care

But hey, we’ll always have those two seasons, right? Sure, J.J. Redick didn’t follow through on his intentions to retire in a red, white, and blue uniform, and actually played for two more teams over his final two seasons in the league but hey, the Philadelphia 76ers hold the rare distinction of being the final team Redick suited up for in the playoffs, which I’m sure will keep the City of Brotherly Love a special place in his heart.