An argument for the Sixers to keep Josh Richardson | Off the Dribble
Richardson showed in this year's Celtics series his value as a defender and also had his moments on offense.
The 76ers are into reshaping their team this offseason, one that came much sooner than they or their fans expected.
General manager Elton Brand has vowed to turn things around, but he also mentioned that he wasn’t looking to trade all-stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Even if Brand keeps his all-stars, there figures to be discussions of just about anybody else.
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A player who contributes on both ends of the court
One person’s name likely to be heard in trade rumors is Josh Richardson. His first season with the Sixers was marred by frequent injuries and up-and-down play.
It’s possible, if better utilized, he could be more effective. For instance, he was often used as a backup point guard, something that doesn’t play to his strength.
Where the 6-foot-5 Richardson is strongest is on defense. He can defend against quick point guards, shooting guards, small forwards and even some power forwards.
During the Celtics’ sweep of the Sixers, one of the brighter spots was Richardson’s defense. Against Celtics young star Jayson Tatum, Richardson more than held his own. According to NBA.com stats, in nearly 20 minutes of matchup minutes, Richardson held Tatum to 7 of 20 shooting, including 2 of 7 from three-point range. Tatum was also 4 of 6 from the foul line.
Jaylen Brown shot just 2 for 7, including 1 for 6 from beyond the arc against Richardson.
Kemba Walker gave Richardson (and everybody else) some problems. In 9:26 of matchup minutes with Richardson, Walker shot 3 of 5, including 1 of 1 from three-point range. He also earned two free throws.
During the regular season, Richardson had some difficulty defending elite point guards such as Damian Lillard, but who doesn’t have trouble with Portland’s scoring machine? Lillard shot 8 for 11 including 5 of 7 from 3-point distance against Richardson.
During the regular season, Richardson spent much more time guarding point guards. For instance, he only had 2:44 of matchup minutes against Tatum, but that’s because the Sixers had Ben Simmons to handle those duties.
With Simmons out for the playoffs following left knee surgery, Richardson had to be a more versatile defender.
On offense, Richardson had his inconsistent moments, but also some good ones. With all the emphasis he had to place on defense against the Celtics, he still averaged 16.8 points in the four playoff games and shot 35.7% from both the field and 3-point range.
In the regular season, he averaged 13.7 points and shot 43% from the field, and 34.1% from beyond the arc.
Richardson, who turns 27 on Sept. 15, will earn $10,865,952 next season according to Hoopshype.com, with a player option of $11.6 million for the 2021-2022 season.
It is a salary that could be traded, but if the Sixers give up on Richardson, their defense would take a hit.
While it would be shortsighted to suggest that the Sixers shouldn’t trade Richardson at all costs, he would add a lot of value to the team if he does return.
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Sixth man history begins with Sixers
Last week Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell became the 38th winner of the NBA’s sixth man of the year award.
The first player to win the award?
That would be Bobby Jones with 1982-83 NBA champion Sixers. After the Sixers acquired Moses Malone before the season, coach Billy Cunningham thought it was better to bring Jones off the bench. Cunningham was worried how Jones would take it, but Jones went up to the coach and suggested it would be better for him to come off the bench.
Jones, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, was a true team player. Before that season he had been a five-time all-star, once in the ABA and the other four times in the NBA, but he had no ego and eagerly accepted the sixth man role.
That season, Jones averaged 9.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 23.4 minutes. He was also among the six players named to the 1982-83 NBA’first-team all-defensive team. Included on the first-team were teammates Moses Malone and Maurice Cheeks. (The reason there were six players was that Cheeks and Dennis Johnson of the Phoenix Suns were tied for the final spot.)
Amazingly, the Clippers have won the sixth man of the year award four of the last five years, with Jamal Crawford named in 2016 and former Sixer Lou Williams winning in 2018 and 2019.
The Sixers’ only other sixth man winner was Aaron McKie, who won in 2000-2001. That was the season the Sixers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games during the NBA finals.
McKie, now the head coach at Temple, averaged 11.6 points, 5.0 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 31.5 minutes that season and also played strong defense.
In 1982-83 when three Sixers were on the first-team all-NBA defensive squad, none were named defensive player of the year. That was the first year a defensive player of the year was named. Who was the first NBA defensive player of the year that season?
Hint: He was induced into the Hall of Fame with Jones in 2019. (Answer below.)
Passing the rock
Question: Any chance of getting Dawn Staley as the coach? — Deirdre Childress Hopkins from Facebook.
Answer: First off, it’s great to hear from you, Deirdre, and thanks for the question. My colleague Marcus Hayes wrote recently that the Sixers should interview Staley because of her accomplishments as a player and a coach. I would hope that if the Sixers interview her that it just wouldn’t be for public relations reasons and that they would truly be considering her.
I have been on record saying that I think the Sixers need somebody with NBA head-coaching experience, who can push Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and I still think they will go that way. That doesn’t mean that somebody like Staley wouldn’t work and she would be a fascinating hire. There is always a chance the Sixers could go this route, but I don’t think it will happen.
The NBA’s first defensive player of the year in 1982-83 was Sidney Moncrief of the Milwaukee Bucks.