Looming Large: Michael Redd

Milwaukee has not had a winning record since the 2002-2003 season and this year the Bucks will continue that trend, as they have accumulated 46 losses already. The franchise has been plagued by a consistent barrage of injuries over the years and draft picks not living up to their hype, but shooting guard Michael Redd has been the one constant the organization has had in the last half decade.

The 28-year-old veteran was originally selected in the second round by the Bucks in the 2000 NBA Draft. Redd didn't see much action in his first professional season but took advantage of playing time in his sophomore campaign and averaged 11 points in 21 minutes. By 2003, Redd worked his way into the starting lineup and started all 82 games for the Bucks.

Early in his career, Redd was considered a player who could make a living by just hanging around the perimeter and making open shots. While Redd can certainly knock down an open three, he has improved his game greatly and is now regarded as one of the most complete offensive players in the NBA.

At 6'6", 215-pounds, Redd creates all kinds of matchup problems because of his well-balanced offensive repertoire. On the season, Redd is averaging 23.3 points and is making nearly 37% of his three-pointers, but he can also slash to the hoop and take opponents off the dribble. He excels inside the arc and is a master of the lost art of the mid-range jump-shot and he can finish around the hoop. Redd also has a knack for getting to the foul-line, attempting 7.3 free-throws a game. With this wide array of scoring maneuvers, Redd is one of the most difficult players in the league to guard because he is tall enough to shoot over smaller defenders, and quick enough to blow right past the bigger guys.

Not only has Redd developed into a dynamic scorer, but he has also expanded his overall game. Redd has learned to spread the ball around and is taking the least amount of shots per game since 2001. Because of his willingness to share the ball, the Milwaukee guard is also averaging a career high in assists at 3.5 per game.

Perhaps the biggest improvement to Redd's game has been on the defensive end. While Redd won't be winning any Defensive Player of the Year awards anytime soon, he is no longer considered a liability. Redd is averaging nearly a steal per game and he uses his size and wingspan to keep opponents from attempting uncontested shots.

Redd's dramatic jump from 2nd-round pick to all-star hasn't gone unnoticed around the league, but because of Milwaukee's struggles, Redd probably doesn't get the credit he deserves. He has improved on every aspect of his game and is one of the most complete players in the game.

One team that is certainly aware of Redd's prolific scoring ability is the Orlando Magic. In two games against the Magic this year, Redd is averaging 26 points and is proving to be a difficult matchup for Orlando. Guard Maurice Evans, a noted defender, will have to bring his "A" game in order to slow down Redd. Look for Orlando to offer some weak side help in order to give Evans a hand, because the key to beating the Bucks is stopping Redd, who won't be easily contained.