Richardson is ready to work his tail off for the Kings


After hundreds of so-called “fortune-tellers” had attempted to discourage Malachi Richardson from entering the 2016 NBA Draft, his dream came true when he was picked at No. 22 by the Charlotte Hornets, who were making the selection for the Kings after acquiring Marco Belinelli from Sacramento. The Kings cannot talk about Richardson until the deal becomes official on July 1.

With that said, the immense pressure Richardson felt in the first two hours of the draft was lifted after his name was called.

// “That means a lot,” Richardson told reporters at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “You can’t really worry about what people say anymore. They’re not in my shoes, and I just got to make the best of the opportunity.”

The first time I noticed this young man was when he opened thousands of eyes around the country as he scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half during Syracuse’s rally from 14 points down against the University of Virginia.

The comeback was described by Jim Boeheim as the proudest he had been in his four decades of coaching the Orange. Those are big words coming from a Hall-of-Fame coach who has coached many talented players in his time at Syracuse.

[Check out Rudy Gay’s thoughts on Dave Joerger, Team USA and his upcoming basketball camp]

Can Richardson finally fill the void at shooting guard for the Kings? Well, he definitely has the ideal height at 6-foot-6 and has a 7-foot wingspan, reminding me a little bit of the physical tools Kawhi Leonard had coming out of San Diego State.

But the major difference I see is that Richardson can already shoot the ball. Leonard became a very good shooter in the NBA with a lot of hard work and commitment to the San Antonio’s legendary system.

I love that his physical tools can potentially help him become a very good defender in the NBA and having a defensive-minded head coach such as Dave Joerger will only help his progression as a defender.

He played in a zone defense in college but an athlete of his category should make the transition to a man-to-man defense very easily at the NBA level.

“It definitely won’t hurt me,” Richardson said. “I played man-to-man my whole life, and I’ve been able to show that I can play man in these workouts, so (I’m) just going to have to get out there and play.”

Richardson averaged 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds for Syracuse on 36.9 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from beyond the arc. Those numbers won’t dazzle you but to be fair, he wasn’t the number one option on offense. Boeheim told him that he would have more shot opportunities if he went back to school but Richardson knew he did enough for scouts to value his skillset at the next level.

The Kings are hoping they finally found their future shooting guard because it simply didn’t workout with Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas.

Richardson doesn’t have to worry about making it anymore – his time has arrived and he no longer has to listen to critiques telling him it was a mistake entering the draft or that he would become a bust if he did. The Kings are in need of a shooting guard to step up and if Richardson shows up like he did against Virginia, the future for the Sacramento Kings looks a lot brighter.

“I just look forward to going out there and working my tail off, trying to help that organization,” Richardson said.


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