Let’s get this out of the way first — Josh Richardson won’t score 27 points every night.
Richardson, the 2015 second-round pick who scored a career-high in points in last night’s much-needed win over the Charlotte Hornets, had been mired in a bad shooting slump earlier this season. Over the first 19 games of the season, Richardson had made just 25.3 percent of his 3-point shots.
That’s a bad sign after Richardson’s injury-plagued sophomore season limited his development when Dwyane Wade’s departure left more room for him to grow. And for those who think the Heat should have tanked last year instead of signing middling players to long-term contracts, Richardson’s four-year, $42 million extension was yet another example of Miami mortgaging its future for mediocrity.
And for all his shooting struggles, Richardson has served as a defensive irritant in his third season. Richardson holds opponents to 38 percent shooting — third in the NBA for players who defend at least eight shots per game.
Richardson doesn’t need to score 27 points per game for the Heat to recapture some of their high-octane play from last season’s 30-11 close to the year. But he needs to couple his defensive prowess every game with a few made 3-pointers and some nice drives to the basket.
Can Richardson be that consistent player? One could probably ask this question for many players on this team. The Heat’s next game is against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. We’ll see how he plays tomorrow.