Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Jason Richardson didn't impress in his first half-season with the Orlando Magic, who thought they were getting a dynamite scorer to pair with Dwight Howard and instead got a decent fourth option. They re-signed the 30-year-old Richardson to a new, four-year contract before the season began and kept him in the starting lineup. He turned 31 the following month. How'd the former NCAA champion respond to his new deal?
By turning in the worst season of his career.
|Points Per Game||Rebounds Per Game||Assists Per Game|
|Points Per 36||Rebounds Per 36||Assists Per 36|
|PER||Rebound Rate||Assist Rate|
All statistics in this table from Richardson's player page at basketball-reference. Career-high statistics highlighted in gold; career-worst statistics highlighted in silver.
Richardson set career-worsts in shooting from the field (40.8 percent) and the free-throw line (59.4 percent), and has never scored or rebounded less effectively than he did with Orlando in 2011/12. He's simply not a fit in Orlando's scheme, which minimizes running opportunities--despite his age, he's a solid transition player--in favor of post-ups and pick-and-roll work. Unless he's shooting the three from the right side of the floor--NBA.com's stats tool shows he made 41.2 percent of his three-point tries from the right side of the court, compared to 28.9 percent on the left--he's not much use offensively.
The Magic don't use Richardson's post-up game. Defenders can run him off his three-point line because he's markedly less effective pulling up from mid-range, at just 28.1 percent on the year, according to NBA.com's stats tool. If he has a low-post game--and it's something broadcasters from opposing teams love to bring up--he hardly gets the chance to use it, posting up just 52 times in 59 games, according to mySynergySports.com.
In short, Richardson is limited offensively. As a stand-still shooter and fourth option, he'd be OK; that's the role he's best suited for. But this isn't a guy you want to be your most lethal option on the wing. Orlando's problem is that it has, in Richardson and fellow starting wing Hedo Turkoglu, two guys being asked to shoulder a bit too much of the load.