Richardson Seeing Shooting Resurgence in New Role with C’s

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In joining the Boston Celtics this season, Josh Richardson was asked to move into an entirely new role, transitioning from a steady starter to a veteran leader off the bench.

Despite the change, after starting 263 out of 268 games over the past four seasons, the 28-year-old wing is having one of the most efficient campaigns of his career.

“I came in pretty open-minded,” Richardson reflected at Wednesday morning’s shootaround ahead of a home matchup against the Charlotte Hornets. “[Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens and head coach Ime Udoka] told me before what it was going to be, so I was prepared for that. Kind of makes it a little easier on me honestly, just being able to take my time getting into the game, being able to bring energy has been good.”

In 33 appearances, Richardson has averaged 10.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. Although his playing time has dipped from a six-season average of 30.6 minutes per game to 25.8 MPG, he’s been in one of the best shooting rhythms of his career.

After shooting 42.1 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from 3-point range over the previous three seasons combined, Richardson has bumped those clips up to 45.0 percent and 41.1 percent, respectively, this season. His field-goal clip is just two-tenths of a percentage point away from his career-best mark, and his 3-point clip is the highest it’s been since his rookie season with the Miami Heat.

As Richardson mentioned, he’s benefitted from easing himself into the game off the bench after observing the starting unit. And the veteran wing has also been a benefactor for the youngsters who play alongside him with the second unit.

“It’s been good for me, being able to talk to the starters, get the young guys engaged,” Richardson said. “I get to feel the game out a little differently than I have before, and then keep the bench in tune to the game because we have a lot of young guys on the bench. Being that veteran presence for them has been good for me, just kind of settling everybody.”

Richardson has also taken on more of a floor general role of late, serving as one of Boston’s main facilitators off the bench. It’s a role that he hasn’t played much since his early NBA days with the Miami Heat, as both Philadelphia and Dallas used him more in an off-ball, catch-and-shoot type of role over the past two seasons.

“Having the ball in my hands gets me into a rhythm, gets me into a flow,” Richardson said. “Gets my confidence up for the game, keeps me rolling, helps me settle us. I know the offense pretty well, know what the guys want to do, where they want to get. It’s been a blessing for me, for sure.”

Richardson hopes to settle into his role even more heading into the second half of the season. Boston has now won five of its last six games and Richardson’s availability and leadership within the second unit will be critical in keeping the C’s on track.

“Just hopefully showing more consistency,” Richardson said of his second-half goals. “Hopefully being able to be healthy in the second half of the season more, being more available. And just still working on being a leader on this team; being vocal, not shying away from when things need to be said.”

It goes without saying that his impact has been immense so far while selflessly transitioning into an entirely new role.

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