Scouting Report: Malachi Richardson

Malachi Richardson is a shooting guard from Syracuse University. Richardson is 6’6 and has a wingspan of 7’0. For the year, he averaged, 34.4 minutes per game, 13.4 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists per game, 1.2 steals per game, while shooting 36.9% from the field, and 35.3% from three.

Pros:

  • Size and length
  • Athleticism
  • Passion
  • Gym rat
  • Leadership qualities
  • Scoring abilities
  • Can finish through contact
  • Effective scorer in transition
  • Gets his man in the air with his ball fakes
  • Three point shooting
  • Good passer
  • Great perimeter defender
  • Active hands on defense

Cons:

  • Inconsistent shooter
  • Needs to become better with left hand
  • Can be erratic on his drives
  • Poor shooting mechanics
  • Selfish with the ball
  • Ball handling
  • Turnover prone
  • Decision making
  • Basketball IQ

Overall:

Malachi Richardson is flying up draft boards and mock drafts. His pre-draft workouts have been compared to Kristaps Porzingis, and have the potential to make him a top ten pick. Richardson can get hot very quickly from the field, but he is still extremely raw in his decision-making on offense, and will need some time to develop into a reliable threat. Richardson looks like a nice three-and-D wing to add to many team’s rotations.

Offensively, Richardson loves his jumper, which is why you see such a low shooting percentage from him. His release point is very low for a player his size, so getting it off at the next level will be difficult, and could lead to many blocked shots. As many players who live and die by their jump shot, Richardson can either be red-hot or ice-cold. His attacking style of offense leads him to iso quite often. He is quick off the dribble, which allows him to get to the rim. Richardson is capable of finishing through traffic and contact. Richardson is capable of finishing with both hands, but almost always uses his right, which at the next level will be on scouting reports, and will be an exploitable weakness of his. In terms of ball handling, Richardson can often be caught trying to play hero ball, and do everything himself, which just leads into easy turnovers for opposing defenses. He does play fast, so when he gets into the paint, he needs to keep control of his dribble better as well. Richardson is an underrated passer. He may not make the fancy passes most guards are capable of, but he is accurate and times them well.

On defense, Richardson is a stout defender, with continued room for improvement. On the perimeter, Richardson uses his speed, length, and effort to be a terror on the wing. Richardson hates seeing his opponent score, so you will not see him slouching often on defense. Using his length, Richardson is excellent at disrupting passing lanes, and leading the attack in transition. When his man is in the paint, Richardson has good strength to not get bullied by bigger guards, and his length makes it even more difficult to get your shot off in the congested paint area. In terms of rebounding, Richardson is nothing special. With his leaping ability and length, one would expect higher numbers, but he just lacks good tracking skills to be a difference maker on the boards.

As an overall, Richardson is a solid defensive wing, with the potential to be an electric scorer at the next level. If Richardson can learn to attack the basket more, and get a feel for his jumper, he could contribute early on. However, his reliance on his jumper will cause him to see erratic minutes in his first few seasons, as he will be hot and cold, and many teams cannot afford to do this. As mentioned above, Richardson is flying up draft boards, so predicting his draft range is difficult. I would say the safe place to say his range would be in the 12-25 range. His defensive abilities will give him minutes early on in the NBA, and any consistent offense will just be looked at as a plus. Teams like Memphis, Indiana, Atlanta, and Philadelphia all have a need for scoring and perimeter defense, so a player like Richardson makes a lot of sense for them going into the draft.

Pro Comparison: Rashad Vaughn

As a Milwaukee Bucks fan, I am torn on Vaughn. He showed a good ability to hit from three in college, but could never find any rhythm in his first season in Milwaukee. Richardson reminds me a lot of Vaughn with his ability to get hot on the blink of an eye, and the massive defensive potential at the next level.

On offense, both players love their jump shots. I felt safer with Vaughn coming out of college, as his jumper had much better form, and release point, something Richardson will need to work on greatly at the next level. If they are feeling it, they can hit any shot from anywhere on the court, but if it is an off night, expect to see brick after brick. Attacking the rim was neither players speciality, Vaughn shot floaters, while Richardson went for the lineup. If they did attack the rim, it was usually off iso, which both players use a lot of. In terms of handle, neither player is spectacular, but is good enough for their skill set. Passing is another good quality from both of these players.

Vaughn saw very few minutes in his rookie year, and his defense was based on potential, so it is hard to see how that translated. Richardson has an established defense game, one will have defensive minded coaches eager to add him to their roster. Vaughn was a much better rebounder coming out of school, and Richardson should look to improve his fundamentals and awareness to add a new component to his game.

Comparing a player to another player who has barely played at the professional level is not something I like to do, but the similarities were too great for me not to compare the two. Both players have a unique ability to score, but need time to develop into their roles as shooters. Luckily for Richardson, he is the better defender, so his time to shine in the league might come before Vaughn. In this league, shooters become a dime a dozen, so if they cannot control the consistency of their jump shot, only expect them to be around for 4-6 years before people give up on them.

By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17

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