Slated in the first round on the Miami Heat draft board, Josh Richardson slipped to them at the 40th pick where they took him with great surprise. Now, Richardson will be on the Heat's roster for the upcoming season, but it wasn't easy.
The Heat value Richardson so much that they traded Zoran Dragic and Shabazz Napier away with draft picks and cash for nothing in return to create the roster room to keep him. Zoran, no big deal. But Napier was the Heat's first round selection last year that they also traded picks to acquire him, and now he's off with nothing in return.
It may sound foolish, or it could sound like a lot of trust in Richardson, the 4-year guard out of Tennessee.
But here's the question: what will Josh Richardson's role look like for the Miami Heat this season? If he plays point guard, he's behind Goran Dragic and Mario Chalmers. And if he plays the off-guard position, he is behind Dwyane Wade and Gerald Green and even Justise Winslow. And that puts him fighting with Tyler Johnson for playing time.
In case you have forgotten, here's the Heat's projected pre-training camp depth chart:
Richardson is a 6'6 guard. So some would say that he's clearly a shooting guard, but he has a lot of point guard skills. The problem is that so does everyone else in the guard rotation besides Gerald Green. If you watched the Summer League at all, you noticed that Josh was a good ball handler and mid range shooter.
But that doesn't answer the question: where does he fit in the rotation?
In the NBA, a team can dress 13 players for a game. When I look at the 15 man roster that the Heat have...assuming they are all healthy (which won't be the case all the time), Richardson is going to be wearing a suit for much of the season.
Dragic, Chalmers, Wade, Green, Deng, Winslow, Bosh, McRoberts, Haslem, Whiteside, Andersen, and Stoudemire are going to take the first 12 spots when healthy, that's a given. The last spot will be between Ennis, Johnson and Richardson. And right now, I think Richardson is going to be #15. That could change, and will be up to him to make it change.
Tyler Johnson looked fantastic in the Summer League before leaving injured. He showed improvement and skill. He also played some good minutes for the Heat last year. James Ennis had a bad Summer League season, but he has a year of experience with the team.
Richardson is simply young, and has a lot of room to grow. When he gets to dress, it's going to seem unlikely he plays much at all. I don't know if that disappoints you or not, but from the outside looking in, that's where he needs to be. He does a lot of things pretty good, but nothing great beyond defense. He'll need to improve his shot and decision making to get in any Heat games.
But, we do know that Erik Spoelstra changes his rotation throughout the season. We've seen Shabazz go from a regular to a DNP instantly. The same with Ennis. We saw Whiteside and Tyler Johnson emerge onto the rotation. Things can change and if Richardson is ready he will prove himself.
Until then, he will be wearing suits for the team on game days.
What do you think?
Is Richardson poised to make it into the rotation? Give us your take in the comments!