Brett Brown has labeled Josh Richardson as the Sixers’ “mortar,” a player with talents that help hold everything together on an unusually built team.
Richardson has been filling that role well recently, and he was rewarded Monday by being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. It’s the first time the fifth-year guard has earned that distinction.
In a 2-1 week for the Sixers, Richardson averaged 22.7 points and 3.7 assists.
He scored 11 of the Sixers’ first 15 points Thursday vs. Boston shortly after the announcement that Joel Embiid was set to have surgery on a torn ligament in the ring finger on his left hand, finishing with a game-high 29 points.
“Sometimes, like in Houston, I kind of get caught up in being too unselfish and passing, which isn’t a bad problem to have,” he said. “I talked to Coach a little bit and he just said it gives our offense a different look when I’m aggressive like that. It gives people more space to work.”
Richardson hasn’t yet fulfilled Brown’s request for a higher volume of three-point shots — Brown asked the same last Monday of Al Horford and Tobias Harris, too — but his abilities to find his own shot, run the pick-and-roll with Ben Simmons and defend smaller opposing guards have been valuable.
He's the most used and most efficient pick-and-roll ball handler on the Sixers this season, producing 0.89 points per possession out of that action.
Outside of that rough offensive night in Houston on Jan. 3 when he shot 2 for 10, Richardson has increased his level of play since telling reporters on New Year’s Eve that he thought there “wasn’t enough accountability in the locker room right now.”
With Embiid out, Richardson taking charge is an encouraging sign.
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