Sixers’ Josh Richardson proving to be ‘a do-all’ player
The 6-foot-6 shooting guard has been showing his versatility in training camp.
Reserve point guard Trey Burke isn’t the only new 76ers addition making a solid impression at training camp. The Sixers are happy about what they acquired in Josh Richardson from the Miami Heat in this summer’s trade for Jimmy Butler.
“A do-all,” coach Brett Brown said of what he’s seen from the slender, 6-foot-6 shooting guard. “I see him switch out on four-men [on defense] and really be tough enough. Although he’s wiry, he’s tough, guarding them at a post.”
The fifth-year veteran also can switch off easily onto point guards, shooting guards and small forwards, Brown said. But he’s not just a defensive stopper. Richardson also has shown an ability to make plays as a backup point guard when need be, set screens, and make shots.
“There’s more of a willingness to fit in and do what it takes than I thought he showed in Miami,” Brown said. “He was called upon to do more with the team that they had, and he did.”
Last season, his job was to provide scoring.
Now as a Sixer, Richardson has been mindful of what he can do while starting alongside star teammates. As a result, he is focused on just fitting in well and doing whatever the team needs in a particular game.
“He really is capable in a lot of ways,” Brown said.
Richardson’s versatility is different from what the Sixers had in former shooting guard JJ Redick, who signed with the New Orleans Pelicans in free agency. Redick is one of the league’s premier three-point shooters. However, he lacked Richardson’s athleticism and ability to create for himself, and was a liability on the defensive end.
Richardson also will benefit from not being the Sixers’ focal point. Stopping the other starters — Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Al Horford and Tobias Harris — might be higher priorities for opposing teams.
“I think I’ll get a lot of open looks this year, especially playing with guys who know how to play good basketball, who get a lot of attention on them,” Richardson said. “So me just finding [openings] in the defense will be a little easier" than it was last season in Miami.
He’ll probably be defended by opposing teams’ point guards because he’ll be the Sixers’ smallest starter by at least three inches. The Sixers could take advantage of the mismatch, as point guards are typically smaller than Richardson. So at least in certain situations, the Sixers could post him up or feed him a lob.
“It’s not going to be all day every day I’m sure,” Brown said of point guards defending Richardson. "But they got to guard somebody. Are [we] going to try to go at it as a post or a lob, maybe?
“I just feel like he’s pliable to a bunch of areas, both offense and defense.”
Embiid a full participant
Joel Embiid, who has been brought along slowly during training camp this week after offseason knee rehabilitation, was a full participant in Thursday’s practice.
He had not competed in all team drills during the first two days.
Embiid, 25, was hampered by tendinitis in this left knee late last season. He missed 14 of the final 24 regular-season games, plus Game 3 of the Sixers’ opening-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets.
But he’s been his normal dominating self at training camp. Thursday was no different.
“Joel looked good,” Harris said, “in shape and just playing hard.”
At media day Monday, Embiid talked about a variety of things, including his goals for this season. The two-time All-Star said he’s 20 pounds lighter than he was at the end of last season. He said he wants to be the league MVP and defensive player of the year.
Embiid intends to play more than the career-high 64 regular-season games he played in last season. He also wants to help the team finish the regular season with at least 60 wins and the Eastern Conference’s top playoff seed.