A former lottery pick is thriving in his new role with the Lakers

LeBron James
LeBron James / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Lakers signed Cam Reddish to a veteran minimum contract in the offseason, they were expecting to get a young rotation player they could throw into games when the injury bug plagued the team. They weren’t expecting to get a key piece of a playoff-level roster. Throughout his short NBA tenure thus far, Reddish has dealt with a variety of obstacles that have prevented him from becoming the player many expected him to become. 

Reddish received significant hype in high school, but when he hit the court for Duke University in 2018-19, he was often overshadowed by Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Despite that, the Atlanta Hawks selected Reddish 10th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Reddish struggled to make himself indispensable in Atlanta and was traded to the New York Knicks during the 2021-22 season. He only appeared in 35 games with the Knicks before being shipped off to Portland. 

The story was the same everywhere he went: teams were intrigued by a player with his size, athleticism, and potential, but his game never translated to the NBA. Yet, the former lottery pick has seemed to find a home with this Lakers squad.

Cam Reddish is thriving in his new role with the Lakers

Reddish’s stats don’t jump off the page. He’s averaging 7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists this season. Reddish has also struggled to consistently hit shots from deep, shooting 30% on 2.8 attempts per game. The 24-year-old is averaging a career-best 1.4 steals per game, but that stat only begins to paint the entire picture.

Reddish has been making all the hustle plays the Lakers need from their young players. Reddish came into the league expected to become a dynamic three-level wing scorer. He showed flashes of that in Atlanta, but moments of lackluster effort led to skepticism about his drive to succeed in the league. 

His performance in Los Angeles has rewritten the narrative that has defined Reddish's career.

His performance in Los Angeles has rewritten that narrative. Reddish has been a menace on defense and has hustled for steals and loose balls. The Lakers occasionally task Reddish with defending an opposing team’s primary scorer, and while it hasn’t always gone in his favor, Reddish has continued to put up a fight against whoever he’s guarding. 

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has rewarded Reddish with a consistent spot in the starting unit. In 26 games played, Reddish has started 19. The 6-foot-8 wing has also earned the trust and support of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. 

James even came out in support of Reddish after fans criticized him for missing a wide-open shot that would have put the Lakers over the Miami Heat on Nov. 6. In the postgame interview following the loss, James, who passed Reddish the ball on the play, said he believes he made the right decision despite the outcome.

Reddish would later reward James’ confidence in him with a 17-point performance in an In-Season Tournament victory against the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 10. 

Regardless of how Reddish is perceived by fans, there is no doubting his importance to this Lakers team. He never became the star player some projected early in his career, but he embraced the mentality of a role player. Reddish is no longer on the court looking to wow spectators with an acrobatic finish around the rim or deadeye shooting. He’s looking to make energy plays that contribute to winning. 

He brings energy, enthusiasm and the willingness to put his body on the line as long as the team is winning. While Reddish, a former lottery pick with sky-high expectations, continues to thrive in his new role, so will the Lakers.