Evaluating Quentin Richardson's first campaign with the Orlando Magic is a difficult task for me, as I said roughly all I need to say about him in this space over a month ago. In short, Otis Smith brought him aboard for his ranged shooting, toughness, and defense. The problem was he so lacked the first ingredient there that he couldn't stay on the floor often enough to showcase the next two.
Further, the Magic's two trades in December put him, and coach Stan Van Gundy, in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, shipping Mickael Pietrus to the Phoenix Suns left Richardson as the team's only above-average perimeter defender. On the other, the same trade brought, in Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu, two far better overall players to the Magic. They happen to play the same position as Q-Rich. The trade at once increased the need for his services and almost assured he'd never have the opportunity to showcase them. J-Rich and Turkoglu averaged 34.9 and 34.1 minutes per game, respectively, for Orlando this season. Richardson, who signed with Orlando last summer envisioning himself a starter on a championship-caliber team, found himself floating in and out of the rotation for most of the post-trade season.
|Points Per Game
|Rebounds Per Game
|Assists Per Game
|Points Per 36
|Rebounds Per 36
|Assists Per 36
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's struggles all come down to shooting: he didn't fire away often, but he did, it was off the mark almost two-thirds of the time. In a sad irony, Matt Barnes, whose role he theoretically took over in part because of his limitations as a shooter, may have been a better fit for Orlando this season.
Though Richardson's work over his 11-year career suggests he's unlikely to shoot so poorly again, his inaccuracy last season still proved problematic. Had he shot more in line with his career averages, Van Gundy could have afford to play him more and not put such a burden on J-Rich.
The numbers above attest to his poor offense, but apart from that, Q. had a solid season. His work on the glass, from his position, is solid. His ability, and willingness, to defend the league's more physical small forwards is a boon to a Magic team bereft of great individual defenders apart from Dwight Howard. This was no more clear than on March 1st, when Van Gundy called on him to play the final 16:48 of a game against the New York Knicks--with Turkoglu sitting--in order to defend Carmelo Anthony. Orlando, which trailed by 9 when he entered the game, went on to win by six, thanks to both his disruptive defense and his offense; he scored 10 points during that run.
Such outbursts were the exception, and not the rule, for Q. last season. It's hard to fault his effort or attitude--he was always ready to play, despite the vast drop in his role--but these grades have to account for actual performance too. And Q. did not perform to his standards.
Having said all that, I reiterate that he's very likely to bounce back whenever next season starts, with a three-point percentage in the high thirties and a True Shooting Percentage slightly above the league average. I'd like to see him post up more and spot-up less, but it's difficult to fault the way Van Gundy deployed him. He simply missed a lot of shots.