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J.J. Redick heating up in best season yet

LOS ANGELES -- J.J. Redick smiles when he’s told he’s having a career season.

He’s seemingly always in the midst of a career season. Ever since his second season in the league, Redick has increased his points per game average, going from 4.1 in 2007-08 and gradually moving up over the next eight seasons to 15.6 this season.

“Each year, I think I say to myself, ‘I’m playing the best that I’ve played,’ and thankfully this year is no exception,” Redick said. “I feel that way ... I feel like every shot I take is going to go in. It’s a great feeling as a player.”

This season, however, is different than past seasons in which Redick has scored more. Not only is he averaging a career high in points, but he is also shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from 3 and has started all 65 games he has played, all career highs.

Last season, Redick had a great season statistically, averaging 15.1 points while shooting 45.5 percent from the field, career highs at the time, but he was limited to just 35 games while dealing with a broken hand and bulging disk in his back. This season, Redick has missed only four games while dealing with back spasms.

“[My health] has played a big part with the fact that I have missed four games or something like that,” Redick said. “So last year, I felt like it was a great situation, which was part of the frustration. It was such a good group, and I enjoyed playing. I played well when I was healthy, but not being out there, I was not able really to full advantage of the situation. I feel like I was able to do that this year.”

While Redick has had a great season, he has been particularly good this month, averaging over 20 points per game in March while averaging 47.2 percent from field and nearly 40 percent from 3.

“Anytime you ever hold a franchise record, it is a positive,” Redick said. “The fact that it was Jamal [Crawford’s record] was cool, too. He and I struck up a great friendship. It just also shows, which is funny -- my wife sent me a screenshot after the game of the top three seasons, and they have all been the last three or four years. It shows that the Clippers have not had a great history, so we are kind of writing that history right now. It is a pretty cool thing to be a part of.”

It’s no accident Redick has improved his production every season he’s been in the league after his sophomore campaign. His offseason workout isn’t just about improving his game, but countering how other teams and players are defending him. He will look to strengthen his weakness before his opponents look to exploit them on the court.

“I pay attention to advance stats, and I pay attention to shot charts,” Redick said. “I try to figure out, if I can’t get to my strengths, what are teams forcing me to do and how do I improve on those weakness so each year I kind of work on one or two things that if I can get them better will incrementally add a little bit of offensive to my game. The other thing is the amount of time I’m in the gym. Once I start my basketball workouts in July, it’s every day except Saturday. I’m in there, and my shooting percentages each year reflected that I’ve put the time in.”

Redick’s increased production has been a necessity rather than a luxury after Blake Griffin was forced to miss 15 games with a staph infection in his right elbow and Jamal Crawford was sidelined indefinitely with right calf contusion. They’ve needed him to be more aggressive and take on an increased the scoring load along with Chris Paul, who is averaging 22.4 points and 10.4 assists this month.

“I played against him in college, when he was at Duke and dropping 34 every night,” Paul said. “I have the ultimate confidence in J.J. The way he prepares for the game and the way he shoots the ball, I get pretty mad at him when he misses, because he’s not supposed to. I think that shows the trust we have in him. He’s been lights-out.

“Me and J.J. have had to be a little bit more aggressive offensively, but now that Blake’s back, he’s the one telling us to be more aggressive, and that opens it up for everybody. If I’m aggressive, that’s going to open it up for J.J. and Blake and everybody else. We’re really playing like a team.”

When Doc Rivers traded for Redick after coming to Los Angeles, this is how he envisioned Redick playing and fitting into the offense. He would play the role Ray Allen did in Boston and space the floor, hitting big shots while providing a deep threat. The plan worked last season when Redick was healthy and has worked even better this season with him on the floor for most of the season.

“I didn’t even know that he was having a career year,” Rivers said. “I just know that he is being J.J. It’s just who he is. He has great confidence. He’s healthy. We’re doing a better job. Just like with Ray. The first year, I thought we were good with Ray, and the second year, we were phenomenal with Ray because the guys knew how to get him open. I think the same thing is with J.J. now. It’s his second year. They know where he’s at. They know how to get him open, and he knows how to get open.”