WILDWOOD, N.J. — Josh Richardson is happy to be with the 76ers for many reasons, not the least is that he no longer has to hear the wrath of the fans at the Wells Fargo Center.
Richardson was acquired this off-season in a sign-and-trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat.
Entering his fifth season, Richardson was involved in a five-game playoff series loss two years ago against the Sixers. There have been many other, heated games with the two teams.
His biggest perception of Philadelphia as an opposing player?
“The fans, man,” Richardson said during Saturday’s annual Sixers Summer Shore Tour at the PigDog Beach Bar BQ in Wildwood. “The first thing you think about is how hard the fans are to opposing players. It is tough playing against that and I am excited to play on the same side of those fans.”
The fans were excited to see Richardson and second-year guard Zhaire Smith, who were on hand to give autographs during Saturday’s event.
A 6-foot-6 swingman, Richardson says he can’t wait to play on a daily basis with his new teammates. He is projected to be a starter as the shooting guard.
In looking at his new team, Richardson noted something he thought he would never see, that he will be the smallest player in the starting lineup.
The rest of the projected lineup is 6-10 point guard Ben Simmons, 6-9 small forward Tobias Harris, 6-10 power forward Al Horford and 7-2 center Joel Embiid.
“I have never been that ever in my life,” Richardson said about being the smallest. “This will be interesting, looking up to my teammates, talking in huddles.”
Richardson has earned a reputation as an accomplished defender. He says he will be willing to defend any player, even the quick point guards in the Eastern Conference such as Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Kemba Walker, just to name a few.
An underrated aspect of his game is his offense. Richardson, who turns 26 on Sept. 15, has increased his scoring output each of his first four seasons in the NBA with the Heat. His scoring averages have risen from 6.6 ppg. to 10.2 to 12.9 to finally last year 16.6.
“It’s just work,” he said about improving his offensive game. “I think the game kind of gives back to you what you put into it and I put a lot into it.”
Since the Heat didn’t make the playoffs last season, Richardson hasn’t played since April. His last game was April 4 because he missed the final four games with a groin injury.
Richardson says that after a long off-season he’s ready to go.
So is Smith, acquired on a draft night trade in 2018 after being the No. 16 overall pick in the first round by the Phoenix Suns. A Jones fracture in his left foot and then an allergic reaction to something he ate limited Smith to six late-season games. He also made brief appearances in two playoff games and appeared in 11 games for the Sixers G-League affiliate the Delaware Blue Coats.
Not surprisingly, his summer has been spent working overtime on all aspects of his game.
“I’ve been grinding,” he said.
Smith says he has benefited from extra summer work in the weight room. The Sixers list him at 199 pounds. He said he was about 205 the last time he was weighed before the summer and now says he is 212 pounds.
He hopes to become a solid rotation player.
“That is the goal," he said. “Get in the rotation and play hard and do what I do and have fun.”