Richard­son makes easy ad­just­ment to new sur­round­ings

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Tom Moore

Josh Richard­son is in the midst his sec­ond week of prac­tice as a Philadel­phia 76er. If his head is spin­ning at the new­ness of the sit­u­a­tion, he’s do­ing an im­pres­sive job hid­ing it.

Head coach Brett Brown told re­porters Mon­day that he’s cre­ated a “76ionary,” which is a dic­tionary filled with all of the Six­ers’ terminolog­y. Ben Sim­mons, per­haps jok­ingly, claimed it’s 438 pages.

“He’s been teach­ing us new things on film every day,” Richard­son said. “He’s been re­fer­ring to all the new words that the new guys have learned.”

Ac­quired in the Jimmy But­ler trade with Mi­ami to re­place JJ Redick as the Six­ers’ start­ing shoot­ing guard, the Six­ers are count­ing on Richard­son to im­prove their wing de­fense, cover op­pos­ing point guards, run the floor, be a sec­ondary ball-han­dler and con­trib­ute at the of­fen­sive end.

And help the Six­ers get to the NBA Fi­nals, too.

That’s a lot to put on the plate of the 6-foot-6, 200-pound Richard­son.

“It’s tough go­ing to a new place,” Richard­son said. “You never know how you’ll fit in, on and off the court. Com­ing here, I had those same wor­ries, but the guys have been great. It’s been eas­ier than I ex­pected.”

Richard­son joins Sim­mons, To­bias Har­ris, Al Hor­ford and Joel Em­biid in the new-look start­ing lineup. Hor­ford, who spent the past three sea­sons with the Celtics, is also in his first year with the Six­ers, while Har­ris didn’t ar­rive un­til Fe­bru­ary and has switched from power for­ward to small for­ward, so there are plenty of mov­ing parts.

Given the de­par­ture of 3point spe­cial­ist Redick, it’s go­ing to have to be a group ef­fort to pick up the perime­ter shoot­ing slack, just as dif­fer­ent play­ers will need to be the go-to scorer late in games now that But­ler is in Mi­ami.

“I’m not com­ing in here try­ing to be Jimmy Redick,” Richard­son said. “Those are two of the best guys in the league at what they do. They did great things for this team and this city. I’m just com­ing in here try­ing to be the best J-Rich that I can be.”

Richard­son looked sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able in Satur­day’s Blue x White Scrim­mage that fol­lowed a mere four days of train­ing camp. He and point guard Sim­mons seemed es­pe­cially in tune with one an­other.

“There were times I also felt that [Sim­mons and Richard­son had real good chem­istry],” Brown said. “That would have been part of the most pos­i­tive things that came out of the starters play­ing with each other. I think those two can be elite, de­fen­sively, re­ally stalk­ing back­courts.

“Josh is so elu­sive and sort of slip­pery. He’s re­ally hard to screen. He’s al­ways ac­tive. He can get in and slide through nar­row places and get back in front of balls.”

Sim­mons, who likes play­ing at a fast pace, was in tran­si­tion on one play Satur­day at the 76ers Field­house in Wilm­ing­ton when he no­ticed Richard­son.

“I pushed the ball and he caught up,” Sim­mons said. “I just re­al­ized he was there. He’s able to run with me. It’s fun.”

Fans can get an­other look at Richard­son and the Six­ers dur­ing Tues­day night’s ex­hi­bi­tion game against the Guangzhou Loong Li­ons of the Chi­nese Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (7 at the Wells Fargo Cen­ter).

Richard­son has im­proved his scor­ing in each of his first four sea­sons with the Heat, jump­ing from 12.9 points in 2017-18 to 16.6 last year. His 3-point per­cent­age dropped from 37.8 per­cent to 35.7 dur­ing the span, though the num­ber of at­tempts in­creased by more than 50 per­cent.

Richard­son has a pen­chant for get­ting to the rim and fin­ish­ing al­ley-oop passes for dunks. He is also a good passer, av­er­ag­ing 2.73 as­sists per turnover last sea­son.

“Of­fen­sively, he’s long and has great touch around the rim and can knock down the out­side shot,” Sim­mons said. “So far, it’s been great play­ing with J.”

Richard­son re­al­izes there might be some grow­ing pains on the way to the Oct. 23 sea­son opener against the Celtics and be­yond, but he’s been pleased with how things have gone so far.

“I think it’s been a smooth tran­si­tion,” Richard­son said. “They’re pretty straight­for­ward calls. If I don’t know [a play], some­body — Ben or To­bias or some­body — is go­ing to clear it up for me.”

So far, things have been pretty clear for Richard­son as a Sixer.


Josh Richard­son.

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