On a macro level, if the 76ers’ second preseason game was a showcase for some of the different things the club is capable of doing, the same could certainly be said on a micro level about Josh Richardson.
This past summer’s key sign-and-trade acquisition littered the box score with a team-high 18 points (7-14 fg, 3-9 3fg), four assists, three blocked shots, plus two rebounds and a steal. He was all over the court Friday when the Sixers downed the Charlotte Hornets, 100-87, in Winston-Salem, NC.
“He’s been amazing so far,” said Ben Simmons, who was a squad-best plus-23 in 23 minutes (15 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl). “Defensively, obviously he’s been a presence communicating with everybody, but offensively, he’s gifted. He can get to the rim and shoot the ball. He has great touch and he’s been a great addition so far.”
The versatility that Simmons was alluding to was on full display at Lawrence Joel Coliseum, where the Sixers improved to 2-0 on the preseason.
Offensively, Richardson helped push the pace, and proved effective in traffic, whether by drawing a crowd to subsequently find an open teammate, or rising up inside to hit a difficult, off-balance shot.
When left alone on the perimeter, the 26-year old, who a season ago hit a career-best 164 threes in Miami, made open shots.
Defensively, Richardson was part of a collective effort that produced 14 steals. He generated deflections, and delivered the second of his three blocks in impressive fashion by going mano-a-mano with Philadelphia native Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the final seconds of the first half.
While it might have only been the second game of the preseason, Brett Brown considered Richardson’s performance worthy of a post-game bell ringing inside the Sixers’ locker room.
“He’s going to be special for us,” said Brown. “I think the City of Philadelphia is going to love him. He gets after it defensively, he’s unselfish offensively. When he’s put in a position to receive a ball and make a shot or make a play, he can do that.
“I think that he is so vital to the true sort of bonding of our team. I think he’s a glue type guy, and I think his skill set and what he brings to the table, especially defensively and guarding another point guard, stands out the most.”
Richardson’s mission has been to bring energy and passion to the floor.
he fits in just fine. pic.twitter.com/qTeqO6e7Hz
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) October 12, 2019
“I play nasty man,” he said following Friday’s victory. “I don’t try to play cute, I don’t try to play cool, none of that. I just try to outwork the guy across from me. I kind of make it a game within a game on defense. On offense, I just try to make the best plays.”
A mindset that early on, is suiting him – and the 76ers – just fine.