Suns Draft Profile: Malachi Richardson
6’6” 200 lbs SG/SF
2015-16 Stats at Syracuse: 13.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG
If you were looking for an unbiased profile of Syracuse freshman Malachi Richardson, you’ve come to the wrong place. As a passionate Orange fan, I saw a lot of Richardson’s turbulent season. The highs were like Dirk Nowitzki rainbow 3’s, however the lows were mind-numbingly frustrating. After Syracuse’s run to the Final Four, it was no surprise to me that Richardson would declare for the draft, and boy do I want to see him stay in orange, and come to the desert.
Watching Malachi Richardson shoot just makes me happy. He has a terrific stroke, with real NBA range. His footwork is really second to none, and it doesn’t surprise me that has said that he watches and tries to model his footwork off Klay Thomson. I would put Richardson right up there as one of the top shooters in this year’s class.
He is long at 6 foot 6 inches with a 7-foot wingspan. This helps Richardson get to the rim off the dribble with crossovers, ball-fakes, and attacking closeouts. This length translates to the defensive end well, as he has shown the ability to close out on shooters, and play passing lanes in the Syracuse zone-defence. He has quick feet, and with some more development could turn into a Wes Matthews type of player.
Richardson showed some real leadership in his lone season with the Orange. He often took it upon himself to lead by example, and this confidence and leadership will translate well into the NBA.
As much as I wanted him to be, Malachi Richardson is not perfect. He showed some really questionable shot selection, often settling for contested 3’s, while not looking for his teammates. He has a good ability to get into the lane, but often drives right into help defence, and when he gets to the rim, it’s not always pretty.
Richardson’s lack of athleticism gets him into trouble when attacking the basket, shooting only 49.4 percent at the rim. He hasn’t shown any sort of consistency shooting from mid-range either, which is a problem. His defence isn’t great, but will improve playing outside of the Syracuse zone, and in an NBA system.
He is one of the older players in the draft, turning 21 in January. His upside is not as high as some other prosects, and is really a boom or bust risk.
How does he fit?
A sweet shooting wing with defensive struggles? No I’m not talking about Devin Booker. Defensive issues have never stopped the Suns before, and I don’t think it should stop us this time. Malachi Richardson looks to be a terrific offensive prospect, with room to grow in the defensive end.
If the Suns snag a bigman with the fourth pick, I would have absolutely no problem with them picking up Richardson, to add some more scoring off the bench, and hopefully to develop into an All-Star player.
Are you as high on #23 as I am? Or am I just being a Syracuse homer? Let me know in the comments below.