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Why has Josh Richardson become so passive as a starter for the Heat?

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Richardson's numbers have taken a dive this season in his role as a starter.

NBA: Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Erik Spoelstra has given Josh Richardson more minutes than anybody not named Goran Dragic, for the Miami Heat this season. Richardson's performance as a small forward is perfectly adequate for a mediocre team like the 8-9 Heat. Continuing Josh's lackadaisical play going forward is acceptable ONLY if Miami is content to remain a middle of the road team enjoying an early vacation this summer.

In the first five weeks of the season, per NBA stats, of the 57 players coaches put on the court for over 550 minutes, Richardson is dead last in points scored, 149, baskets made, 56, next to last in FG%, 36.6%, fifth lowest number of free throws, 14, and fourth lowest number of rebounds on defense, 47.

Fans and coaches love JRich's elite ability as a man-on-man defender, but contributing to the team as whole is essential to reach the playoffs. Last year's small forward, Rodney McGruder, wasn't afraid to get in the paint and fight the big boys for rebounds, challenge them for put-back scores, or make clutch three-point baskets from the corners.

For some reason Richardson hasn't been 100% mentally focused when shooting from downtown, like Dion Waiters can be. When Philly Cheese locks in during clutch situations, you can tell it's just him and basket: the rest of the world and the frenzied crowd is totally out of the picture in his mind. Dion is all by his lonesome self on Waiters Island.

Perhaps when launching a shot, Josh can image being on his own Richardson Island, where nothing exists but him and the basket: determined to make sure the basket feels the swish of the ball going in the net for a score. The Heat need play-off caliber performances every game from Josh, if Miami aims to have a long and winning season.

Trailing everyone in the NBA, who played more 550 minutes, with 56 baskets puts the burden on Josh's teammates to get the missing points. The net exists to feel Richardson exploding the basketball through it.

On rebounding, the net belongs to the Miami Heat and is off limits to other teams. With Hassan Whiteside patrolling the paint, JRich can do better than Goran Dragic outrebounding him 59 to 43. Any player daring enough to approach the net will have to answer to someone with Miami written on his jersey.