If Josh Richardson is still standing as a Sixer when Daryl Morey has put a bow on this offseason, can he have a better second season in Philadelphia? Outside of the injuries, what exactly went wrong for him offensively during the 2019-20 season?
We’ll start by highlighting Richardson’s playmaking. Both his assist percentage and his turnover percentage went in the wrong directions after a career-best year with the Heat.
- 2015-16: 9.7 AST%—10.5 TOV%
- 2016-17: 12.7 AST%—10.6 TOV%
- 2017-18:: 13.2 AST%—12.9 TOV%
- 2018-19: 17.9 AST%—9.1 TOV%
- 2019-20: 13.9 AST%—12.8 TOV%
There are a myriad of factors we can attribute this to, including an injury-related lack of rhythm with his new teammates and adjusting to a situation in which he was no longer his team’s leading scorer. However, we can pinpoint Richardson’s decreased effectiveness as a facilitator on his drives. He drove less often, made fewer passes off his drives and had fewer assists.
Richardson’s drives per game
- 2018-19: 10.1 drives—45.0 PASS%—1.2 AST
- 2019-20: 8.0 drives—36.4 PASS%—0.7 AST
Even though Richardson is not a top-tier shot creator, the hope would be that he could manufacture open looks for others at a level closer to his 2018-19 standard, especially on his forays to the hoop.
Richardson was also worse as an outside shooter. He didn’t fire as frequently or have as much success overall. Specifically, his percentage dipped on catch-and-shoot threes.
Richardson on catch-and-shoot 3s
- 2018-19: 4.6 attempts per game—38.5%
- 2019-20: 3.4 attempts per game—34.6%
And he was much worse on wide-open long-range attempts.
Richardson on wide-open 3s
- 2018-19: 2.5 attempts per game—43.2%
- 2019-20: 1.5 attempts per game—32.1%
If he’s on the 2020-21 Sixers, it’s fair to expect Richardson will, at a minimum, sink those wide-open jumpers at a higher rate. He didn’t appear to make any drastic mechanical changes last year that would explain such a steep decline on those attempts.
More than anything, though, the vision of an improved Richardson next season rests on the notion of him benefiting from greater health and more minutes with the Sixers’ stars, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The injury interruptions weren’t the whole story, but they certainly didn’t help Richardson or the Sixers this past season.
Given the need to find better complements to Simmons and Embiid, Richardson's value as a decent player in his prime, and the fact that he has a player option in 2021-22, it wouldn't be stunning if he's one-and-done as a Sixer or is dealt away before next season's trade deadline.