LAS VEGAS - So how good is Malachi Richardson?
Although he entered Syracuse as a McDonald's all-American, the shooting guard was not on any NBA team's draft board in the fall. Then Richardson made the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-freshman team and spearheaded the Orange's run to the Final Four.
"At the end of the season, he was on everybody's board," said an NBA executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
A mock draft by CBS.com has the 76ers selecting Richardson with the 24th pick in the June 23 draft. Tankathon.com has the Sixers selecting him two spots later in the first round. The team also has the first overall pick.
However, there's a good chance that the sharpshooter and scorer will be off the board before the Sixers make the 24th pick. The league executive ranks Richardson, 20, as the 16th-best prospect on his draft board. A league scout said Richardson could go in the top 10 after he wowed NBA executives and scouts Tuesday in a workout at the Impact Basketball facility.
The Sixers might have to move up in the draft if they want to select him. The team is trying to bring Richardson to Philadelphia for a workout.
"I would love to play for Philly," said Richardson, who played high school ball at Trenton Catholic Academy. "That's the hometown, basically. Philly is not even an hour drive from my house" in Hamilton, N.J.
"I would definitely look forward to going to the organization and becoming a better player and a better man. I know they can teach that."
The 6-foot-6, 199-pounder didn't look like he had a lot to learn during his workout. The Sixers were on hand and represented by Brandon Williams, vice president of basketball administration, and Vince Rozman, director of basketball operations and scouting innovations. The team's president of basketball operations, Bryan Colangelo, and coach Brett Brown are in Turkey visiting Dario Saric.
If there were any questions about Richardson's skill set, he put them to rest Tuesday. He was hitting three-pointers like they were layups. He also had a spectacular one-handed alley-oop dunk in a three-on-three scrimmage.
But in all honestly, the workout was designed to highlight his strengths.
Still, his stock skyrocketed after the workout, so much so that he canceled this week's workouts for the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets. Richardson had been scheduled to fly to Phoenix on Tuesday evening.
"Phenomenal," a league scout said of Richardson's performance. "It's looked like last year's [Kristaps] Porzingis workout. I'm hearing he's going in the top 10."
In April, Richardson entered his name in the draft to get a sense of where he would be selected. He was expected to get a second-round grade and remain in college. But he opted to stay in the draft and hired an agent after an impressive showing at last month's NBA draft combine that garnered a first-round grade.
"I just want to be picked as high as I can be picked," Richardson said. "My play will show for itself where I deserve to be picked at."
Richardson averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in his lone season at Syracuse. He shot 36.9 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent on three-pointers. And he took his game to another level in the NCAA tournament.
His highlight was when he scored 21 of his 23 points after intermission to lift the 10th-seeded Orange to a 68-62 victory over top-seeded Virginia in the Midwest Regional final. Syracuse battled back from a 14-point halftime deficit. Richardson was voted the regional's most outstanding player.
He knows the Sixers probably would have to trade up from their lower first-round picks to draft him. Richardson would be excited if they did that.
"I'm looking forward to winning there," he said. "They are definitely making some big moves this offseason. So it's going to be interesting how this draft goes for that team."