NBA Draft: Malachi Richardson can prove NCAA-Tournament performance was no fluke

first_img Published on June 22, 2016 at 1:01 pm Contact Connor: cgrossma@syr.edu | @connorgrossman Facebook Twitter Google+ The stretch was Richardson’s best from last season, a folktale performance preceding his declaration for the NBA Draft. He’s worked out for a plethora of teams in advance of Thursday’s draft at 8 p.m., and has reportedly been promised a first-round selection from the Memphis Grizzlies at pick No. 17. It would be the ultimate reward for Richardson’s 2015-16 season, in which he averaged 13.4 points to finish second on the Orange in scoring.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHe pieced together his NBA resume gradually over the course of Syracuse’s 37-game season. Richardson averaged nearly 14 points in his first six games before dipping into a slump shortly thereafter. It was the first sign of his inconsistencies, but he stamped his season with undeniable upside. Before his run against Virginia, Richardson scored 21 against Dayton, becoming the first SU freshman to score 20-plus in an NCAA Tournament game since Carmelo Anthony.It was his final act before hitting the NBA workout circuit, trying to validate his March tirade without the crowd, the stakes and the hype.“That would just be incredible, for somebody who was probably going to do two years of college to do one and maybe be a top-10 pick,” said Fred Falchi, Richardon’s coach at Trenton Catholic (New Jersey) Academy. “It’d just be an amazing thing.”But if Richardson lands in the first round, it won’t solely tie into his playoff games on national television. Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony wrote on Yahoo’s The Vertical that teams like the Grizzlies are “enamored” by Richardson, an intrigue likely vested in the guard’s physical measurements. He stretches a 7-foot wingspan out of his 6-foot-6 frame, the shortest player at the NBA Draft Combine to do so.Richardson bulked up at Syracuse, helping him get to the rim more consistently. It’s lent him a rare blend of size and shooting ability.Richardson’s former coaches both pinpointed weaknesses in Richardson’s game, from ball handling to his pull-up jumper. But both Boff and Falchi offered the same NBA comparison for Richardson, seeing parallels between Richardson and the Golden State Warriors’ shooting guard with a smooth stroke behind the arc: Klay Thompson.Both Richardson and Thompson couple their size with unexpected offense, but certainly Thompson, with the third-most single-season 3s in NBA history, is a lofty goal for a 20-year-old to reach.“(Thompson’s) about 6-foot-7, can create his own shot and has tremendous range. Malachi has similar attributes,” Boff said. “It’s a long way for him to become the type of player Thompson is, but (Malachi) has similar size, has the ability to create his own shot and has range that extends beyond the 3-point line.”Thompson was a first-rounder for the Warriors in 2011, falling to Golden State with the 11th pick. Most draft experts don’t estimate Richardson to get reeled in as quickly.ESPN’s Chad Ford has him going to the Grizzlies at No. 17. CBS Sports paired Richardson with the Detroit Pistons at No. 18. Bleacher Report was less generous, slotting Richardson at No. 26 with the Philadelphia 76ers.This much seems to be agreed upon: Richardson is a first-round talent. Jim Boeheim dubbed his former player’s rising draft stock as “media nonsense,” but regardless, Syracuse has moved on from Richardson. He did the same by signing an agent on May 16, and will cement the transition when he’s invited to join a professional team on Thursday.A team that buys into Richardson’s skill set, one they hope wasn’t misleading from his March Madness.“Whenever it seemed like the big moment, that’s when he played his best,” Falchi said. “That’s just a sign of a great player.” Commentscenter_img With the nation’s eye on him as Syracuse’s season ticked away, Malachi Richardson reached into his toolbox. Facing a 16-point, second-half deficit against Virginia in the Elite Eight, he pulled out a nifty catch-and-shoot 3. He pulled out a step-back move behind the arc to hit another. He pulled out a shifty ball fake, knifing between three defenders to hoist a layup.He fixed SU into the Final Four with a 21-point, 20-minute rescue mission, flexing nearly every muscle of his offensive game along the way. Richardson did it against the country’s second-best defense, and largely against Malcolm Brogdon, the reigning National Association of Basketball Coaches Defensive Player of the Year who will likely join Richardson in the NBA.“That was really something special,” said Dave Boff, Richardson’s former coach at Roselle Catholic (New Jersey) High School. “… He showed everything he’s got right there.”MORE COVERAGE:NBA Draft: The case for picking Michael GbinijeNBA Draft: The case against picking Michael GbinijeNBA Draft: The case for picking Malachi RichardsonNBA Draft: The case against picking Malachi RichardsonNBA Draft: Michael Gbinije tries to answer the questions he faces coming out of Syracuselast_img

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