When his shooting was on from the field, Syracuse shooting guard Malachi Richardson was the best player for the Syracuse Orange last season en route to their Final Four run. He is the best NBA prospect on their roster, but where do we expect him to be selected on draft night?
- Class: Freshman
- Age: 20
- Height: 6’6″
- Weight: 200 lbs.
- Wingspan: 7’0″
- 34.4 minutes per game
- 13.4 points per game
- 4.3 rebounds per game
- 2.1 assists per game
- 36.9% shooting from the field overall (35.3% from three)
If your team wants athleticism, they’ll get it with Syracuse guard Malachi Richardson.
Richardson, who in my eyes is a Brandon Ingram-lite, is one of the more athletic players in this draft class. Despite having a very up-and-down freshman season at Syracuse when looking at his numbers, his athleticism and explosiveness was enough for him to consider making the jump to the NBA.
With Richardson, his success in the NBA, much like in college, will be completely predicated upon how consistent he can be. Richardson averaged 13.4 points per game on 37% shooting from the floor last season, while canning a hair over 35% of his shots from beyond-the-arc. While he did not post the greatest shooting statistics in the world, the upside that he has showed when he was shooting the ball well is more than enough to get him drafted quite high on Thursday night. He undoubtedly needs to become less streaky and more consistent, which should become easier for him when he doesn’t settle for bad shots.
There were many times at Syracuse where Richardson would force up a contested mid-range jump shot, instead of exploding through the lane to the basket and finishing at the rim. At the next level, he will need to take what the defense is giving him more often than he did during his time at Syracuse if he plans on improving his shooting percentages. Richardson has proven to be a strong enough dribbler for his position to penetrate and become a playmaker in the paint.
Even if he is not scoring at the rim, Richardson has excelled as a passer, even if his assist statistics do not reflect his abilities to produce for his teammates. Syracuse was a bad shooting team last season, relying mostly on Richardson and Trevor Cooney to make jump shots and keep them competitive, which ultimately led them to a Final Four run.
Defensively, Richardson is very fun to watch, because of his length on the perimeter. His 7’0″ wingspan should serve him well at the NBA level, as he will likely make it extremely difficult for the players that he is guarding to gain enough space on him to score. Richardson is very quick for his size, and can guard many different positions, which is so important in the NBA game dominated by man-to-man defense and a large amount of switches in the pick-and-roll game.
Overall, it is hard not to like Malachi Richardson as a prospect. His athleticism and length will be very difficult to pass up as an NBA general manager in Thursday night’s draft. If Richardson can improve his decision-making and shot selection, he should be become a much more consistent offensive player, which is the major knock on his game at this point. Expect Richardson to have his name called off the board early on draft night, as I anticipate him being selected in the middle of the first round, likely right after the lottery.
NBA Draft Selection: Mid-First Round Pick