Philadelphia 76ers: Malachi Richardson could be more than just filler

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

While Malachi Richardson has largely been a non-factor in the NBA, he could provide more value to the Philadelphia 76ers than Toronto’s second round pick.

Twelve hours after securing a franchise-altering trade to ship Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, and four draft picks to the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott, Elton Brand is at it again.

That’s right, the Philadelphia 76ers are buyers once more, this time acquiring Malachi Richardson, a 2022 second-round pick cash from the Toronto Raptors for cash considerations.

One pick down, three to go.

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All kidding aside, most will look at this trade as an advantageous squad procuring a future draft pick for an unused roster spot, but that’s expecting very little from Malachi Richardson, even if his NBA production would forgive that assumption.

After being selected 22nd overall by the Charlotte Hornets in 2016, Richardson has largely been on NBA non-factor since being traded on draft night to Sacramento for Marco Belinelli (remember him?), only averaging 3.5 points in 47 appearances for the Kings before being shipped out to Toronto for Bruno Caboclo, a player currently on a 10-day contract in Memphis.

Since arriving north of the border, Richard only appeared in 23 games, averaging 1.4 points in 4.5 minutes of action a night (34 DMPs).

This move, one of presumably many more the Sixers will attempt to execute over the forthcoming hours, is essentially a gift to the Raptors, as Philly is taking a draft pick off their hands to free up a roster spot

That is, unless the Trenton, New Jersey native can finally tap into his potent.

Though it feels like a distant memory now, Richardson was a seriously talented player at Syracuse during the 2015-216 season. Under the watchful eye Jim Boeheim, Richardson average 13.7 points, a steal, and 4.3 rebounds a night as the team’s combo wingman, while knocking down a respectable 35.3 percent of his 6.1 3-point shots a night.

This production made Richardson a borderline lottery pick, with comparing him favorably to Rashad Vaughn, the 17th overall pick in 2015.

Now granted, that comp looks very accurate, as Vaughn has also struggled to find his footing in the NBA, but still, all the talent that made Richardson a first round pick is still there, he just needs a chance to utilize it.

He may have stumbled into a perfect opportunity to do so.

As you may have noticed, the Sixers just shipped their best bench backcourt player to LA and failed to secure any guards in their haul. That means there are going to be minutes available for players who can guard one-through-three; players like Richardson.

Though he’s mostly been a non-factor on the offensive end of the court, according to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, Richardson is an average defensive shooting guard, ranking 20th, 53rd, and 53rd overall. While none of these numbers are amazing, they are an improvement over Shamet, who was among the worst defensive guards in the entire NBA. With five dangerous scorers now on the roster, Philly doesn’t need too much auxiliarly scorers off the bench, but could really use a player like Richardson whose size and athleticism could be a plus against opposing guards.

Furthermore, while Richardson struggled to break into the Raptors bench rotation, the Raptors bench rotation is among the deepest in the league alongside the Celtics. Just because a player like Richardson can’t beat out the likes of Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, C.J. Miles, and Norman Powell doesn’t mean he couldn’t earn minutes next to T.J. McConnell, Furkan Korkmaz, and… Shake Milton?

I mean I love Shake, but he’s on a two-way contract and can’t play in every game moving forward. Will he play in clutch ones? Of course, but the team needs bodies to player 12, 15, maybe even 18 minutes of action a night in relief of J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler, and Ben Simmons.

For better or worse, Richardson fits that bill and could provide the bench with yet another low-risk, high-reward guard.

Next. The Tobias Harris trade completes the Process. dark

Worst case scenario, the Philadelphia 76ers just acquired a second round pick for the price of Corey Brewer‘s roster spot. And if Richardson can put it all together and find a way to recapture some of his college pedigree, then that’s just gravy.