Richardson makes easy adjustment to new surroundings
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.