Syracuse guard Malachi Richardson will sign with an agent and stay in the NBA Draft, telling ESPN that it was a family decision and that “doing what was best for me was the most important thing.”
Richardson’s decision was one of the most intriguing after the NBA Draft Combine. A 6-foot-6 wing, Richardson entered college with the reputation for being a shooter and, despite averaging 13.4 points this season, posted one of the more inefficient seasons we’ve seen out of a freshman shooter in years. He shot just 35.3 percent from three and 38.8 percent from inside the arc — an utterly abysmal number — while his offensive rating, according to KenPom.com, was 100.2; for comparison’s sake, Buddy Hield’s offensive rating was 121.5 and Jamal Murray’s was 118.0. Anything below 100 is generally considered terrible.
But there were a couple of factors at play here. For starters, Richardson has the length and athleticism to potentially be an above average perimeter defender in the NBA one day. The other aspect of it is this: There are scouts that believe Richardson’s struggles offensively had much more to do with his shot selection than they did with his ability to shoot. “Great stroke,” said one member of the front office of a playoff team. “I think he’s going to be a pretty good shooter.”
In the NBA, he’s going to be a catch-and-shoot guy, particularly early in his career, and he has the tools to one day be really good in that role. In a draft like this, that’s enough to get you picked in the first round.
For the Orange, this is a serious blow. Richardson was a potential all-ACC player next season, and while they caught a break getting Tyler Lydon back, the Orange will now be without the guy that should have been their leading scorer and best perimeter shooter.