Josh Richardson Proving to be Perfect Fit for 76ers this Season

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

Things took a bad turn this summer when the Philadelphia 76ers traded Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat. The lineup last season with Butler was one of the most talented in the NBA, but a lack of continuity doomed them in the playoffs. In the deal that sent Butler to Miami, the 76ers received the perennially underrated swingman Josh Richardson

It did not take long for Richardson to find his role in Philadelphia. His play in both training camp and the preseason has shown that he can be the perfect player to round out Philadelphia's potent starting lineup. Boasting an all-around offensive game (career averages of 12.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists per game with a 42.5/36.8/82.1 percent slash line) to go with his dominant defensive abilities, he is the perfect glue guy for the 76ers.

Richardson has shown that he can space the floor with his jump shot, shooting 36.4% from 3-point range thus far in the preseason. He has also been playing his customary active defense, forcing 2.2 steals per game. An argument can be made for Ben Simmons and Richardson forming one of the best defensive backcourts in the league.

Through four preseason games, Richardson is averaging 14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while shooting 46.5% from the field and 36.4% from beyond the arc. If he can carry these numbers throughout the regular season he is going to be a vital piece for the Sixers as they look to contend for a championship.

Richardson, throughout training camp and the preseason, has also shown how versatile his game is on the floor. In Tuesday night’s preseason game against the Detroit Pistons, Richardson stepped in and started at point guard while Simmons was out for precautionary reasons due to back tightness. He did a great job creating for himself and his teammates, racking up a preseason-high six assists.

Head coach Brett Brown talked about the possibility of using Richardson as the backup point guard come playoff time, and Tuesday night was a great first audition of what he could do running the offense in small samples. 

“He was very comfortable running a team,” Brown said after the game against Detroit. “Without many, if any reps running certain plays, he just was able to do it. It really surprised me and I think it’s just one of those things that we feel aggressive in trying to be, think outside the box.”

The 76ers have taken on a new look with the reshaping of their roster this summer. The organization has adopted a defensive philosophy, adding players such as Al Horford in free agency and Matisse Thybulle through the NBA Draft. Richardson's defensive abilities present yet another reason why he is the perfect player for this 76ers' starting lineup. In the past, JJ Redick was Philadelphia's weak link on defense and had to be hidden, but now after bringing in Richardson the team's starting lineup now has five guys who can all defend multiple positions. 

It is going to be very interesting to see how Richardson develops with the 76ers this season. As a player who can do multiple things, there is a good chance he could take on a different role on any given night. Having a do-it-all player is going to be a luxury for coach Brown and is going to be crucial to the team's success this season.