NBA Draft: The case for picking Malachi Richardson

first_img Comments At the rimAt media day in October, assistant coach Gerry McNamara voiced his desire for Richardson to develop the body of a college small forward. By the time the season started, he added another seven or eight pounds from when he arrived on campus last summer, the extra bulk necessary for the 3-guard/small forward/wing spot he’d eventually assume in the starting lineup.On top of helping Richardson on the boards, his frame gave him the extra sliver of muscle to convert some of his otherwise erratic drives. His limbs flailed at times as he darted toward the hoop, but when Richardson had control over his body (which he seemed to have more of as the season progressed) he complemented his potent outside game with an inside attack that gave his offensive arsenal an added dimension when needed.Against UVA, he set up the memorable pull-up 3 in Malcolm Brogdon’s face with a drive to the rim and another layup that he finished after corralling a miss. And after coming to Syracuse with a reputation of being primarily an outside threat, Richardson left with a more complete definition that diversifies his game enough to succeed in the pros.Daily Orange File PhotoFrom the fieldThe aforementioned pull-up with the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year staring him down gave the Orange its biggest cushion against Virginia since the beginning of the game and serves as the defining moment of the comeback.It was certainly the most iconic deep ball from the freshman in a season when he seemingly, at times, lacked a conscious (not a bad thing) when outside the arc. Throughout the year, he displayed a sometimes streaky, but potential-filled range from distance.He finished his one year at SU with a 35.3-percent mark from deep while averaging 6.1 3-point shots taken per game. And if you’re looking for more consistency, gander at the video of Richardson canning 13-of-15 3s at his recent pro day. He certainly flashed NBA range at times during the season and if his pre-draft workouts are any sign, a more consistent deep ball, combined with his inherent fearlessness, should bode well at the next level. Let’s get this out of the way: if Malachi Richardson hadn’t spearheaded Syracuse’s herculean comeback against Virginia in the Elite Eight, odds are he’s in the Melo Center right now taking part in summer workouts. Instead, he’s covering the country doing the same for NBA teams.His 21-point second-half tirade at the United Center in late March put a seal on a freshman season that apparently flew well under the radar. After all, it wasn’t until the week preceding the Final Four that Richardson started popping up on draft boards.And while yes, it may look like the former SU wing made a decision to bolt from Syracuse based on one half’s performance, it was those 20 minutes that showcased everything Richardson displayed in segments throughout the regular season. His explosiveness off the dribble, his body control at the rim and his uncanny ability to hit from anywhere and over anyone showed why he could be selected as high as the back end of the lottery in next Thursday’s NBA Draft.For argument’s sake, I’ll be offering the case against Richardson being taken so high on Thursday, but for now we’ll examine why he’s worthy of his recent meteoric rise.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOff the dribbleIt was his trademark move whenever he caught the ball atop the key and intended to attack the basket. A lightning-quick jab-step one way, blow by his defender the other. As simple as it seemed, Richardson sold the fake as well as anybody on the Orange and it created space for him to make plays in the lane at will.The move was especially effective in Syracuse’s pick-and-roll game when Richardson opted to use the opposite side as the screen that was being set, and such a quick first step should bode well in an NBA offense that will put him in a similar situation.Richardson was also able to create his own shot from midrange or beyond the arc virtually whenever he desired, and that was thanks to the sudden first step off the dribble that gave him just enough space to rise up and put his quick release to use. Related Stories Malachi Richardson, equally unpredictable and unfazed, is ready for the big stageFINAL FOUR BOUND: Syracuse pulls off massive comeback in 68-62 win over No. 1 seed VirginiaA Malachi Richardson impostor spent a day fooling everybody: ‘I got catfished in person’Malachi Richardson reportedly signs with agent, officially ending his college careerHow Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson fared at the NBA Draft Combine on Thursdaycenter_img Published on June 15, 2016 at 10:21 am Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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