For someone who only played a quarter of the team’s games last season, Josh Richardson impressed Spurs fans. The trade-deadline acquisition went from being out of the rotation to playing a key role in the season-ending charge, putting the team in the play-in.
Evaluating Richardson’s performance in San Antonio is easy and won’t take long. The bigger question revolves around whether the soon-to-be 29-year-old, trade-worthy player who could help a contender should move forward on the team.
Traits, Expected Roles, and Statistics
Richardson, a 6-foot-5 veteran, was acquired alongside Romeo Langford and was the first-round pick in the trade that sent Derrick White to Boston.
He is expected to provide some depth behind the young players who will see their roles increase after the trade.
In 21 games, he averaged 11.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 24.4 minutes per game while shooting 44.4 percent from three.
Richardson Season Review
Richardson had an acceptable but not impressive season with the Celtics before the trade, so it’s not enough that he wasn’t immediately on the coaching staff’s schedule when he arrived in San Antonio Surprised. In his first nine games with the Spurs, the veteran has only averaged more than 10 minutes per game in two of them, when he was actually dressed or buried on the bench in five of those games. He finally completed the rotation with more than 30 minutes in his 10th game when the Spurs were short of Devin Vassell and Lonnie Walker IV, had it not been for Doug McDermott due to an ankle injury Out of the game, he may see his role dwindle again. the rest of the season. If the Spurs are healthy, Richardson is likely to languish on the bench.
Those absences have done some good, as they allow Spurs to find Richardson an excellent glue for the team in 2020/21, possibly the perfect stopgap for 2022/23, and possibly a valuable trade asset. His scoring and assist numbers are noticeably better with the Spurs, though he’s played less minutes in Boston than he did in Boston because he’s been asked to provide more on offense than with more Celtics . Despite having more responsibility, Richardson doesn’t try to do much and still has enough energy to deploy on defense if he’s disruptive and physical rather than careless. His outside shooting, which was where he made the biggest contribution to his old club, has actually improved as well. All of his contributions combined make him an excellent utility wing.
Season Grade: A-
Richardson only played 21 games for the Spurs in the regular season, but his role was near perfect when he was there. He played well on both ends of the floor with and without the ball, showed a willingness to adapt to a new team, and even served as a veteran leader if reports are true. On a team level, the Spurs were far better when he was on the floor, only red-hot Keldon Johnson showed a better on/off split in that stretch, showing Richardson’s value. The only area he struggles with is finishing at the rim, where he’s shooting a disastrous 42 percent from the field, but he’s not really called out to be a passer, so it’s hard to overweight him for his weaknesses. punishment.
This is where Richardson is interesting. He’s entering the final year of his contract and will pay him a very reasonable $12 million when he turns 29. He’ll rank 10th in the league in solid 3-point percentage this year while playing at least an average defense.
Richardson has shown he’s the kind of well-rounded player that any team, including the Spurs, would want off the bench. In San Antonio, he could act as insurance in case Walker walks the runway and/or Josh Primo doesn’t seem ready to play a big role next season, but doesn’t represent a long-term investment. He can also help set the tone and bring leadership to a team that can add more young players through the draft. If these youngsters look ahead of schedule and make him a victim when the deadline rolls around, he might at least get a second-round pick. There’s a good reason to keep Richardson around, keeping him on the bench on the wing for about 20 minutes and focusing on other positions that may need more attention.
There’s also a good reason for him to move in the offseason. His 3-point shooting will likely return to pre-career levels, which would make him significantly less seamless with some Spurs lineups. Retaining Walker while retaining him or adding another wing through the draft could lead to a veteran stalemate on the perimeter, similar to what happened with Thaddeus Young. If that can be avoided while actually acquiring an additional first-round pick before the season begins — which is clearly not possible for Young — then it might be wise to do so and avoid any potential disruption. The trade that brought Richardson to San Antonio suggests the team is in asset acquisition mode, so it probably doesn’t make sense to keep a 29-year-old in an expiring deal.
As in the case of Doug McDermott, there really isn’t any wrong answer to what to do with Richardson. If the Spurs keep him safely, they might use him or move him later. If they aggressively buy another asset from him, that would be in line with their current direction.
For any team looking to round out their roster, someone like Richardson makes perfect sense. But should the Spurs, as they currently stand, prioritize reliability over potential? The answer to that question will inform them how to deal with quality players who may not be on schedule at all.