The Atlanta Hawks officially introduced #10 overall pick Cam Reddish to the media and fans Monday morning, holding a press conference at their practice facility. Reddish, along with GM Travis Schlenk and head coach Lloyd Pierce, spoke on the rookie’s appeal and what he brings to Atlanta.
Here are the highlights of the press conference — with questions edited for clarity.
Q: What attracted you to bringing Reddish to Atlanta?
Travis Schlenk:Well, Cam’s a guy who we’ve had the opportunity to see many times, playing for USA Basketball, playing on the AAU circuit, and obviously playing at Duke last year. So he’s a guy that we’ve seen for several years. It’s pretty obvious what attracted us to him. I’ve talked about in the past, guys that are multi-dimensional, multi-positional. Cam’s ability to handle the ball, Cam’s ability to create for other players and shoot the basketball on the offensive end. But also, I don’t think he got the credit that he deserves defensively this year. Cam’s a very good defensive player, great anticipation, he uses his length. Just all-around basketball skills [is what attracted the Hawks].
Q:[Cam Reddish], you mentioned Thursday night this is a team you wanted to come to.
Cam Reddish: Yeah, it’s a perfect fit in a way. It’s a young core, super talented. I just want to learn my teammates, and once I do that, I feel like we’ll be in a good spot.
Q: To Lloyd [Pierce], what do you see in Cam?
Lloyd Pierce: Similar to what Travis [Schlenk] talked about, what’s important to us is adding talent and adding talent that we feel translates to the NBA game. [Reddish] can facilitate, obviously shooting is important for any team, but I think defensively is where you get excited. As you watch the playoffs each round; who can switch one through four, who can defend on the perimeter, who has the length to rebound and attack. I think Cam brings a lot of that. We want to help him grow in those areas and help him learn every aspect; playing with the basketball, playing off the ball. There’s a lot of room to grow, but he’s already got a skill set and a build for it.
Q: Are you close to any of the guys on the team?
CR: I spoke with Trae [Young] after the draft. We’re actually with the same agency, Octagon, so there’s a connection there. I played with Kevin Huerter on Team USA, so we have a little relationship there as well. I’m always around Omari Spellman. He went to Villanova, so close to home.
Q: What was it like in the war room when that pick was coming up at #10 and Cam was still available?
TS: We made a calculated risk that [Cam] would be there at 10. We went into [the draft] with a gameplan, but you never really know. We felt like it was possible; we were in close touch with his agents throughout the process, but trades can happen. All of a sudden Minnesota jumps up to 6, and that makes your heart flutter a little bit because you just don’t know what they’re going to do. We’re extremely thankful that it worked out and Cam’s going to be with us for the future.
Q: Travis, you mentioned that you scouted Cam back in high school. When was the first time you scouted Cam, and what did you see from him then?
TS: I think the first time I would have saw him was the Nike Skills Camp out in Vegas, so he would’ve been 16, 15 years old around that time. That was probably the first time I saw him. It was the same thing, just the overall skill set. He handled the ball a lot more is those settings, so you could really see his playmaking ability.
Q: It’s not an excuse, but how much did the injury have an effect on last season?
CR: Like you said, it’s not an excuse, but it was definitely tough. It was kind of nagging me throughout the entire season, but I’m looking forward to getting healthy. I’ve been working extremely hard, I’m working with the training staff right now to get back and get healthy. That’s my main priority right now.
Q: What kind of role do you see Cam fitting in?
LP: I think we’ve talked about it a lot during the year. The more playmakers and facilitators you can put on the floor, the better your team is. We saw the amount of attention Trae will get, we saw it late in the year, and we’ll see it a lot more next year. It’s not about Trae, but any time you think of ‘how do you attack on the back end,’ 4-on-3, 3-on-2 situations, and you have a guy like Cam, Kevin Huerter, guys who are comfortable with the basketball as well as off the basketball; the more guys you have who are like that, the more secure I feel. We’ll be able to put the ball in his hands where he can initiate the offense, but we’ll also be able to put the ball on the back side where he’s a secondary playmaker as well.
Q: How did playing in the Philadelphia area help you become a pro?
CR: Iron sharpens iron. Playing against the best competition every day, the best competitors throughout my career, it made me who I am today.
Q: What is the timeline for your injury and recovery?
CR: Right now, I’m about two and a half weeks post-surgery. I wanted to play in Summer League, but I doubt that will happen, but I’m for sure going to be ready before the season.
Reddish mentioned his excitement to be in Atlanta on multiple occasions, citing billboards in the city and the love on social media. He said multiple Atlanta celebrities have already reached out to welcome him. Both Schlenk and Pierce made clear that, while Atlanta monitored other players, Reddish was a top priority on Thursday night.
It appears as though Atlanta will lean into Reddish’s playmaking skills more than Duke did. It’s something Schlenk and Pierce emphasized, and it’s also something that was prevalent in Reddish’s high school tape. He was heralded as a 6-foot-8 point guard before arriving at Duke, where he took a backseat to Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett, the #1 and #3 picks, respectively.
The Hawks have built a roster centered partially around size and versatility. While Trae Young lacks elite physical tools at 6-foot-2, he’s a dynamic playmaker who commands serious attention from opposing defenses. Atlanta has filled out the rest of the roster with long, multi-positional players — Reddish and fellow 2019 draftee De’Andre Hunter included.
We’ve seen long, physical teams have success in recent seasons. Philadelphia and Milwaukee are prime examples of big teams that both create mismatches and have tremendous skill level. The Bucks bombed away from deep all season, while Philadelphia had four shot creators standing 6-foot-8+. Atlanta might be envisioning a similar team built around the smaller Trae.
In one-on-one interviews, Reddish provided some clarity on his injury. He said the ‘core muscle’ injury that nagged him throughout the season was to his groin. He also noted a broken rib sustained days prior to Duke’s matchup with Kentucky in November. Given Reddish’s struggles with explosiveness and interior finishing last season, a groin injury could explain quite a bit.
Reddish, although he doesn’t expect to play in Summer League, will join his teammates in Vegas to start building chemistry.