Sixers: Josh Richardson to be team’s most valuable trade piece this offseason


Trade rumors have been swirling around left and right when it comes to the Philadelphia 76ers and the upcoming NBA offseason. While these types of reports normally have the team sending away Al Horford, Tobias Harris, or even Simmons/Embiid, it’s in fact a different name on the Sixers roster who should be the focus point of future Philly trade discussions.

After just 48 games with the Sixers, it’s likely Josh Richardson’s time playing in the city of brotherly love has all but come to an end.

Richardson was acquired this past offseason in the sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler, which occurred between the Miami Heat and the 76ers. Pat Riley and the Heat got their franchise shooting guard in Butler, while Elton Brand and the Sixers got a serviceable replacement back in return.

Initially, fans were quite excited at the prospect of Richardson joining the Sixers. Coming off the best year of his career, Richardson looked poised to potentially be an even better fit with the Sixers than Butler ever was. In his final year with the Heat, Richardson averaged 16.6 points per game while shooting 35.7% from three (1.9% better than Butler).

Not only was “J-Rich” a better three-point shooter than Butler, but his energetic playing style seemed to pair up next to Ben Simmons in the backcourt beautifully. Both long and athletic defenders, the two of them could wreak havoc on opposing guards. Richardson’s ball handling skills also presented Brett Brown with a unique option to run Simmons off the ball a little more frequently.

Initially, Richardson’s fit in Philadelphia seemed like a match made in heaven. He was a +22 in the team’s season opener win against the Boston Celtics, and he played a crucial role in the Sixers initial string of dominant wins. However, as the season progressed, and the flaws of the current 76ers roster began to be exposed, it was clear Richardson was an outsider looking in.

Not only did Richardson experience frequent injuries which left him unavailable for good chunks of the season, but his 3P% began dramatically dipping off. In an offense precedented around Embiid and Simmons, the Sixers desperately needed Richardson to provide some level of floor spacing. 

Currently, Richardson’s 3P% sits at a career low of 32.7%. Not good.

Regardless of if the NBA playoffs even occur in 2020, the Sixers will be entering the offseason with the goal of shaking things up once again. Al Horford will likely be moved for scraps, while J-Rich can be used to salvage some sort of value out of the Jimmy Butler trade. 

Richardson is still just 26 years old, and showed legit flashes of being a future All-Star during his time in Miami. He is also under contract for at least another full year, with the 2021-22 season being a player option. While it’s fun to pretend teams are itching at trading away established role players for Al Horford, the Sixers only legitimate tradable piece rests in J-Rich.

If Elton Brand and the 76ers have their eyes on a true difference maker (say, Buddy Hield for example), Josh Richardson will likely be at the center of those trade discussions.

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