Folks around Columbus already knew. But now the rest of the nation is figuring it out. Michael Redd is a damn good basketball player.
Through the first 7 years of his NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks, Redd's scoring average increased every year. Though this season his scoring average is down slightly from last year (26.7 points per game in 2006-07 to 24.1 ppg in 2007), his assist and rebound per game averages are up significantly (2.3 assists per game in 2006-07 to 3.6 apg in 2007 & 3.7 rebounds per game in 2006-07 to 5.5 rpg in 2007).
Redd came into this season with a newfound attitude towards his play. Redd attributed his new outlook to playing with Team USA over the summer in the FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas. He says he learned a lot from his Team USA teammates on how to be a leader and how to win. He studied Jason Kidd's passing, Kobe Bryant's defensive skills, and the overall team's winning expectations. Redd tried to bring the same skills and attitude he learned from his Team USA teammates to his Bucks teammates. But Redd realized his expectations for the Bucks needed to start with himself.
So in the off-season, Redd hired a personal trainer. Although still a prolific scorer, he wanted to be an all-around player. Redd's hire paid off. Redd is now at 7% body fat, where he was once around 19%, and his numbers for this season don't lie (see above). But more importantly, his leadership on the floor is molding a young crop of talent (Mo Williams, Andrew Bogut, Yi Jianlian, Charlie Villanueva, Charlie Bell, etc.) that could some day develop into an Eastern Conference power.
The Milwaukee Bucks have played 21 of their 82 games so far. Although they are only 9-12 for the season, the Bucks are currently sitting in the 9th position in the Eastern Conference standings. If Michael Redd has anything to do with it, expect the Bucks to make the playoffs. And if he gets more support from his teammates, expect them to win.
The Bucks may not be in the class of the Celtics, Pistons, Heat, Cavs, etc. in the East. But they could very well move up the ladder in coming years.
"Most shooters need to find a rhythm, but [Michael] is ready right away. His [shooting] is something we did not have last year. He's one of the few guys that I've seen in coaching, in over 30 years, where guys are just so happy that he is shooting the ball." - Team USA (and Duke University) coach Mike Krzyzewski
"What we just saw is exactly the kind of stuff we've needed in international play." - USA Basketball scouting director and former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich (after watching Redd draining some 3's, hitting step-back jumpers, and taking it to the hole for easy lay-ups in a Team USA practice)
I've scored a lot of points, but now I've got to make my teammates better, show more leadership and take more responsibility for the team's success." - Michael Redd