At 6-foot-6, Josh Richardson will be the smallest player in the Sixers’ starting lineup.
Before he begins his first season in Philadelphia, let’s look at what he brings to the table:
Defense: A fluid athlete
Richardson is excellent at tailing shooters like JJ Redick, moving fluidly and staying attached well on screens and dribble handoffs.
The 26-year-old made an impressive transition from a quick, controlled close out on the play below to sliding with Redick on his drive to the rim and swatting the veteran’s shot. It’s a nice combination of defensive fundamentals and high-level athleticism.
Defense is clearly a part of the game Richardson values. You have to love the hustle here to chase down Joel Embiid, gobbling up ground to force the steal.
There are, however, odd occasions when Richardson has lapses in effort or allows himself to fade from the picture. The sequence below was a poor one as the Tennessee product’s careless pass bled into him getting beat back door by Furkan Korkmaz.
Just about every player has moments like this, but the Sixers will hope Richardson is just a touch more consistently engaged and active now that he’s on a contender.
Offense: A shifty shooter
Richardson’s instincts for how and when to find space off the ball are strong. He made a savvy shift from slow jog to sharp sprint toward the ball on this play from Feb. 21.
That shiftiness is one of his standout skills. Tobias Harris and Redick botched the Sixers’ defensive coverage on the play below, but note Richardson’s quick curl around Derrick Jones Jr.’s screen, and his burst to the basket before Redick is ready.
Richardson could, in some ways, fill Redick’s offensive role as a constant mover and outside shooter. His three-point shooting is not at Redick’s level (35.7 percent from long range on 6.3 attempts per game last year) but, after snaking around screens, he has more options than Redick, who’s not much of a threat to do anything besides shoot from long distance.
If he was in Richardson’s spot, Redick would typically curl up from the baseline and around Kelly Olynyk at the left elbow extended on that play. For all his strengths, Redick is not a player who, like the Sixers’ new shooting guard, can dart into the middle of the paint and hit a fadeaway jumper.
Though capable of beating his man and penetrating, Richardson isn’t great at creating separation against bigger players or making plays through contact. Ben Simmons swallowed him up on this play.
It’s fortunate for Richardson and the Sixers that he’ll be the team’s smallest starter. Surrounded by bigger (and better) players than when he was with the Heat, Richardson should see more favorable matchups as opposing defenses have to dedicate size to his gargantuan teammates.
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