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J.J. Redick Should Be In the Three-Point Shootout

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J.J. Redick should be in the three-point contest.

Thursday, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported that Redick did not believe he would be asked to participate.

"A lot of Orlando Magic fans have asked whether J.J. Redick will compete in the 3-point shooting contest at NBA All-Star Weekend.Right now, Redick doesn’t think so.He said moments ago that the league so far has not asked him to participate in the event.“I would assume at this point that I’m not in it just because I still haven’t heard anything,” Redick said after the Magic completed practice today. “So, maybe next year.”Redick is shooting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc this season. He ranks 16th in the league in that category."

Sure, as Robbins pointed out, Redick ranks just 16th in the league in three-point percentage, but Redick would provide a boost to the contest. Although Redick struggled through the first three seasons of his career, he is still remembered as the sharpshooting, clutch three-point shooter from Duke that would stick a dagger in your heart by hitting an improbable three-pointer from five to 10 feet behind the three-point line.

And sure, some people enjoyed watching Redick play at Duke because of their dislike for the Duke program and their desire for Redick and the Blue Devils to fail after watching  all of the success the Blue Devils have had under Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Redick no one longer seems to play the villain. In fact, Redick has become a fan-favorite, but whether or not he is now known as a villain or an all-around good guy is not the point. Redick is still an iconic figure in the college game and even casual basketball fans would considering tuning in to watch him shoot.

Of course, Redick’s college popularity is not the only reason he should be in the contest. Redick has become a very good NBA shooter. Entering the season, Redick had never shot better than 39.5% from beyond the arc and shot a career-low 37.4% during the 2008-09 season. Redick never could get into a groove and consistently hit shots. Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy has credited that to Redick’s lack of playing time.

Things have changed.

Redick has played in every game for the Magic, starting nine of them and has played a career-high 23.2 minutes per game. Redick is now scoring 9.9 points per and is shooting a career-high 44.6% from the field and 41.9% from  downtown.

After Tuesday night’s game, Van Gundy discussed the change in Redick.

"“He always said and he’s finally there, I think w hen you talk to him, I think he would tell you what’s changed is he knows he’s going to be in there every night. If you look back, he had some bad shooting games in that stretch where we losing but he’s still going to be in there every night. I think that’s allowed him to relax…I don’t think he’s ever lacked confidence in his ability to put the ball in the basket, but he does a lot more than that now too…He’s a lot more than just a shooter now, he’s a lot better basketball player.”"

The most telling sign of Redick’s improved shooting and play could be seen in last Thursday’s game against Boston and Sunday’s game against Detroit. In two close games in which the Magic had to come from behind, Redick played in the fourth quarter and in both games, the Magic turned to Redick in key situations. Against the Celtics, Redick hit three late free throws after drawing a foul to give Orlando their first lead of the game and then was trusted with the most important shot of the game – Redick hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 94 with under a minute to go. The Magic went on to win 96-94. Against the Pistons Sunday, Redick scored six crucial points down the stretch including three free throws (after drawing yet another foul) that gave the Magic a four-point lead with 1:15 to play.

Redick’s shooting should not be placed above the rest of his game in terms of his improvement because Redick has shown obvious improvement in every aspect of his game. But lately, Redick has gotten the call down the stretch and has taken advantage.

Magic coaches, players, fans and opponents have taken notice and soon the rest of the NBA will take notice as well.

It should start with the three-point contest.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)