Richardson: ‘I’m someone that can put the ball in the basket’
This offseason, the Sacramento Kings buffed up their depth chart in multiple positions, but especially the shooting guard position by drafting Malachi Richardson out of Syracuse.
The Kings had their eye on Richardson throughout his freshman year at Syracuse and were determined to select him in the first round. They were so determined that they offered Marco Belinelli to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for the pick.
“We had seen Malachi in college and were hoping he was available at No. 22,” said Kings general manager Vlade Divac. “DeMarcus told us to keep watching this kid, telling us he could play, and of course we did.”
Charlotte accepted the trade and the Kings selected Richardson in their place with the 22nd overall pick. Because of league rules the trade had to be cleared by the NBA, which took over two weeks after the draft.
Richardson had the least amount of time to prepare for the Summer League and was the last Kings’ rookie to be shown around the city of Sacramento due to the pending trade. He showed signs of improvement at the summer league as he went on to average 8.8 points in his five games in Las Vegas.
Along with the addition of Richardson, the shooting guard position grew stronger for the Kings this offseason — signing Garrett Temple and Aaron Afflalo.
Then you still have Ben McLemore who the Kings drafted in 2013 and at the time, he was sought out to be one of the best players in the draft. Three seasons of ups and downs along with mentions of his name in trade rumors, gives me the impression that McLemore’s days are numbered in Sacramento.
Where does this leave Malachi?
Adding two experienced guards alongside McLemore leaves Richardson on the bottom of the depth chart, but positions are not awarded on paper. They will be earned in training camp.
Depending on the value of play coming out of the two and three positions, Richardson might be able to get some minutes in the rotation sooner than people think.
Richardson is an impressive athlete at 6-foot-6 and is perfect to fulfill either the two or the three given that he has a 7-foot wingspan. Above the physical traits, Richardson is a gifted shooter who can be aggressive on both ends. He’s only 20 years old but is mature and has a solid work ethic.
“He’s a big-time shooter. He has a lot of confidence in himself on offense. And he’s been good right from the jump, right from the first game,” Jim Boeheim told the Associated Press. “He’s was probably you could say our most consistent player, shooter this year.”
Richardson went on to win MVP of the NCAA tournament’s Midwest Regional and also earned a spot on the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Freshman team after helping lead Syracuse to an improbable Final Four bid.
Richardson, who scored 21 points in an opening-round game against Dayton, then 23 points, which 21 of those came in the second half of an Elite Eight matchup against ACC rival Virginia — put Richardson on the radar of many NBA scouts.
“I think the NCAA tournament helped a lot, and going to the final four definitely helped,” Richardson told reporters at Media Day when asked about how the 2016 NCAA tournament run helped his draft stock.
Richardson averaged 13.4 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists per game, while shooting 37 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc.
The poor shooting percentages from Richardson at Syracuse lifted some concerns in the draft process as his true shooting percentage of 51 is the second lowest of any collegiate player to be drafted, according to Draft Express.
Many can agree that Richardson is a tremendous athlete who will be able to grow into a strong two-way player. His shooting stroke and volume to score is not an issue rather it be the decision making behind the shooting along with picking the correct spots.
Richardson wants Kings fans to know what he can contribute to the team and that he is ready to take on the task.
“I’m someone that can put the ball in the basket,” said Richardson at Kings media day. “A good defender, a great energy guy, a good teammate and an overall good player.”
Richardson can be compared to Nick Young or Trevor Ariza since he has a little bit of both in his game because of his ability to defend and score. Richardson has a similar length to that of Ariza and can shoot the 3-pointer.
Nick Young could be the most comparable considering both have similar builds and they both have the ability to create for themselves anywhere on the floor, but especially behind the arc.
Below watch the similarities in shot selection from both Young and Richardson:
Richardson also has to work on being more consistent off the bounce. Adding more weight and building his strength up will increase how much separation is needed off the dribble to either shoot or attack the basket.
Richardson and the Kings’ preseason training squad will begin their preseason October 4th in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Lakers.