In his second season with the Orlando Magic, shooting guard Jason Richardson finds himself in one of the worst slumps of his career. In March, Richardson shot just 37 percent from the field, his worst month since December 2006, wherein he connected on just 29.3 percent of his field-goal attempts. Richardson told Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel that he's struggling to adjust to his diminished role with the Magic, with whom he signed a new four-year contract in December.
"I think I'm struggling with that right now," Richardson said of not handling the ball as much as he used to earlier in his 11-year career. Richardson's averaging a career-low 28.7 minutes per game, a stark drop-off from the 34.9 minutes he averaged with the Magic after they acquired him from the Phoenix Suns in December 2010. "I have to get myself involved in the game more," the former Michigan State Spartan said.
Though struggling to adapt to a new role might partially explain Richardson's poor play of late, there might be a simpler explanation: injury.
Richardson left Orlando's March 8th victory against the Chicago Bulls after a collision with teammate Jameer Nelson as they attempted to defend a baseline out-of-bounds set. The collision resulted in a sprained left ankle and kept Richardson out of action for three games.
In his eight outings since returning from the injury, Richardson is averaging 6.6 points and shooting 34.9 percent from the field, including 25 percent on three-pointers. Though he doesn't draw fouls at a high rate even when healthy, it's nonetheless distressing that Richardson has attempted just one free throw during that stretch.
I don't doubt that Richardson's having some trouble finding other ways to help the team in light of his reduced offensive workload. But I also think it's possible that his sprained left ankle is bothering him more than he lets on.