September 20, 2017, 5:51 pm
Hoop Ball Kings’ brand new series that we are rolling out in the lead up to the 2017-18 NBA season continues. Over the next two months we will be doing a roundtable series which involves all three of our writers here at Hoop Ball Kings. We’ll be discussing various topics including season projections for each player on the Kings roster, record predictions and more.
First and foremost, we will run through every player currently on the Kings roster and provide our personal predictions for their output this season.
Malachi Richardson worked his way into a small rotation role near the back-end of January last season. He was playing well in limited minutes, and had earned the trust of coach Dave Joerger. But all that momentum came to a screeching halt in the final game before the All-Star break. He suffered a partially torn hamstring and would be shut down for the remainder of the season.
In 22 games prior to the injury, Richardson averaged 3.6 points in 9.0 minutes per game. He shot 41.2 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three. The numbers don’t seem spectacular, but he certainly passed the eye test with his ability to create his own shot and spot up from three. His defense was an issue at times but he has the frame and build to be a reliable defender down the road.
Coming off a season ending injury, he’ll have a lot to prove. His Summer League outing was cut short too due to injury so the Kings will be weary of the 21-year-old. Richardson is currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the rotation, a rotation that will be tough to crack with the depth on the wings.
Will Malachi crack the rotation to begin the 2017-18 campaign? Or will he be spending most of his time on the bench this season?
Stat-line Prediction: 4.4 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.3 steals and 0.0 blocks. 42% FG, 36% 3PT, 81% FT.
Unfortunately, I don’t see Richardson in the rotation to begin the season. He’ll have to earn that through hard work in training camp and by staying ready in case injuries occur. It could end up unfolding like last season did, a whole bunch of DNP-CDs to start off, and then an opportunity near the mid-to-late stages of the season.
One thing that was quite evident during Summer League was that he has bulked up significantly. This will help him defensively and will help compliment his long arms which gives him even more upside on that end.
Malachi has a great work ethic so we already know that he’ll answer the call when the time comes. But it may not be for another couple of months.
Stat-line Prediction: 6.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.3 blocks. 44% FG, 33% 3PT, 74% FT.
Richardson showed a ton of poise when he stepped into a small role for the Kings before suffering his injury.
Towards the end of January into the middle of February, Richardson saw an increase in minutes and made the most of them. He only saw double-digit minutes six times, but in those games, he averaged about five points per game, which is why I see him hovering a little higher this season.
About 10-to-15 minutes per game is what I see Richardson getting in his second season and if he does, I expect him to add a decent boost to the Kings offense. He’s still a bit undersized when it comes to weight, but he doesn’t lack confidence and isn’t afraid to get in the mix of things.
Stat-line Prediction: 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.1 blocks. 42% FG, 35% 3PT, 78% FT.
Malachi Richardson’s production in his second season will mostly be tied to his ability to stay healthy. While his injury history is not yet extensive, his early departure from the Las Vegas Summer League is at least somewhat concerning.
If Richardson can stay healthy, he should find himself with plenty of opportunity to prove that he can be a small forward for the Kings. At 6’6” with a 7’ wingspan, Richardson should be able to play small forward at the NBA level.
The team will value his shot creating and floor spacing abilities, but he will need to prove that he can stay healthy before he gets regular minutes in the rotation.
Missed the previous installments of Hoop Ball Kings’ Roundtable Series? Click HERE to read them.