Offseason Roundtable | Rising Richardson Brings Versatility
For the first installment of our 'Offseason Roundtable" series, Sixers.com's Brian Seltzer, Sixers Radio Network announcer Tom McGinnis, and 97.5 FM The Fanatic host Devon Givens share their thoughts on Josh Richardson, whom the 76ers acquired on July 6th in a transaction involving three other teams.
Growing up as a trained classical piano player, Josh Richardson, one of the newest 76ers, has shown the discipline that’s allowed him to improve in every one of his years in the NBA, specifically on defense.
At the University of Tennessee, he was a two-time All-SEC Defensive Team selection. While playing with the Miami HEAT, his defensive versatility allowed him two years ago to be one of three players to rack up at least 120 steals while also blocking 70 shots. Ben Simmons also accomplished that during the same 2017-18 season.
The talent level in the NBA is such that it’s nearly impossible to "shut down" another team's star player. But, Brett Brown will have confidence in knowing that Richardson will be placed defensively in front of any number of the gifted wing players in the league.
So, while Richardson can still "tickle the ivories" playing the classics, he intends to continue the basketball tune that has brought him to Philadelphia for his best work yet.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) July 6, 2019
One thing that shouldn't be overlooked about Josh Richardson? His growth as an offensive player through his first four seasons in the league - especially because he'll now have the chance to flourish even more on that side of the floor given all the threats on the 76ers' roster.
Over the course of his young career, Richardson has shown major offensive improvement, en route to becoming one of the more promising two-way players in the NBA. In 73 games last season, he posted career numbers of 16.6 points and 4.1 assists per game, while shooting 41.2% from the field, 35.7% from behind the 3-point line, and 86.1% from the free throw stripe. Those are numbers that could look similar, if not better, in Brett Brown’s offense.
How so? Richardson could very well benefit on a nightly basis from all the attention that will likely be paid to his talented running mates. His athleticism, fearlessness, and attacking style - combined with a 6-foot-6 frame - will be an added component in the half-court. Between Joel Embiid’s passing from the post and Ben Simmons’ vision, Richardson could be a prime candidate to slash and cut to the basket in Brown’s motion offense.
Also worth noting, a staple of the Sixers' offense the past few seasons has been the dribble handoff. This is an area where Richardson might be able to have success, too.
Oh, and yet another wrinkle to Richardson's game? He can take over as a ball handler as well.
There is so much to like with the arrival of Richardson, and the Sixers have reason to hope his best is still to come.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) July 7, 2019
A Player Development Poster Child
As Tom and D alluded to, there's no question that Josh Richardson is a self-made NBA man. He was chosen 40th overall by the Miami HEAT in the 2015 draft, shuttled back and forth between the NBA and the G League as a rookie, then gradually began to assume a more prominent role in Miami with each passing season.
Examining Richardson's evolution from 30,000 feet, his numbers in points, rebounds, assists, and 3-pointers made went up in each of his four years with the Heat. The 25-year old's 1.0 individual net rating this past campaign was particularly noteworthy, given Miami's ups and downs.
If you followed the 2018 opening round playoff series between the Heat and 76ers closely, you probably remember Richardson having some bright moments. He's earned a reputation as a tough, rising, underrated player.
But quite frankly, I think the book is probably now out on Richardson. He's no longer a secret. He boasts the precise type of profile - between his skill set and intangibles - that would be probably be welcomed on any team in the league.
Here's to his progress continuing as a Sixer.
Read more about Richardson here.