The good and bad of Josh Richardson’s offense
From a scoring perspective, J-Rich is rather lackluster.
His shot selection is relatively poor, and his range is somewhat limited. He has a shallow amount of counters and tends to get antsy when his back is up against the shot clock.
If the Boston Celtics want to see Josh Richardson succeed as a scorer, they need to adhere to his strengths and keep him away from short-shot clocks, pull up threes, or match him up with the opposing team’s best perimeter defender.
Richardson can provide some much-needed rim pressure, close-out scoring, solid midrange creation, transition scoring, and cutting on the flip side. J-Rich is coming off the best finishing season of his career, shooting 67 percent from 0-3 feet, but it came on the lowest volume.
Although 67 percent may not be a sustainable value, Richardson’s below-the-rim creativity was natural, and with the C’s improved rim gravity, the wing should be just fine in that realm.
Additionally, Richardson shot the second-best field goal percentage from 10-16 feet in his career, hitting 49.5 percent of his midranges on the highest volume of his career. The Mavericks increasing his jump shot output played a large part in his insufficient scoring numbers, so the Cs would be wise to confining J-Rich’s creation within 16 feet.
Originally the Mavericks acquired J-Rich to function as an ancillary offensive piece next to their young superstar, Luka Doncic, but as time went on, they quickly realized he was not nearly capable of handling a more significant offensive role.
This led to the lessening of his touches and more off-ball play, just to keep him away from the ball.
He hasn’t cut much since his days in Miami, but with the Boston Celtics wanting to bring back more ball movement, and therefore player movement, Richardson will be encouraged to move towards the basket more instead of around the 3-point line.
In transition, Richardson was relatively average by most metrics but, based on the film, the Boston Celtics can help him improve in that realm.
He’s committed to running the floor, and his shortcomings come back to his poor decision-making.
With Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, and Marcus Smart, who are all excellent transition players, Richardson’s decision-making load will be decreased and made more manageable. Cutting out the inefficient pull-ups and rushed passes will be critical to maximizing Richardson’s transition ability.
At the beginning of his career with the Miami Heat, his role trajectory was supposed to be a dynamic two-way shooting guard. However, due to some health limitations and a failure to realize how limited his vision and touch were, the two-guard experiment failed.
He does have some ball-handling skills, but at best he’s a very average passer and playmaker. J-Rich has turnover problems, 9% cTOV% and 1:1 AST/TO on drives, due to his relatively moderate vision, often locking onto one option and failing to adjust when the defense takes his passing avenue away.
His touch is nothing special, and he doesn’t possess a particularly impressive passing bag. Richardson can flash some no-look dump-offs or impressive one-handed kick-outs, but he can’t manipulate defenses on the move without confusing himself in the process.
The good news is the Boston Celtics don’t need Richardson to be an advanced playmaker or passer; they need him to make the most basic reads possible. I’m not even talking about skip passes or complicated lobs but, rather, timely extra passes.
He’ll get some reps with Williams and Horford in PnR or PnP, and all he’ll have to do is find players either wide-open under the rim or behind the 3-point line.
We saw how easy it was to work with Robert Williams — even Aaron Nesmith threw him lobs.
I don’t mean to undersell Richardson’s passing abilities, as he’s capable if his options are clear to him and he’s given the freedom to make mistakes.
I liked what I saw from him on kick-outs, finding cutters, and making extra passes, but to be clear, those should be your expectations for him.