It’s critical to the Dallas Mavericks success that the Luka Doncic and Josh Richardson duo works
When the Dallas Mavericks traded for Josh Richardson this offseason, they did so with a goal in mind: They expected to pair Richardson with their third-year guard, Luka Doncic, in the starting lineup.
Richardson wasn’t only expected to the “yin” to Luka’s “yang” and do the things the All-Star point guard couldn’t (like play defense) but he was also supposed to complement Luka’s game and play well in the space Luka creates.
For this to be successful, Richardson would have to be able to find open spots, catch and shoot from deep with moderate efficiency, slash to the basket, all while carrying some extra weight on defense. These are not modest expectations.
Sacrificing the best 3-point shooter in league history (Seth Curry) was not something the Dallas Mavericks took lightly. Curry was an important part of the Mavs’ historically efficient offense last season. Even if this trade turns out aces, Curry’s absence will be felt.
The problem was Seth Curry was such an enormous liability on defense, he couldn’t always be on the floor. And when he was, Dallas pretty much had to score at historic levels since on defense Luka and Seth were about as scary as a Disney Halloween special.
Well, I’m here to tell you the early returns are looking good.
Not only are Josh Richardson and Luka Doncic playing with shockingly great chemistry, but Richardson is playing like a man possessed as an individual.
In yesterday’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks Richardson posted 23 points, seven rebounds, and two assists. He was +18 for the game, playing well on both ends of the court. His natural feel for space on the court was apparent and he’s now shooting over 80% from deep, two games into the preseason.
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I know, the sample size is irresponsibly small and his efficiency beyond the arch is unsustainable. But the fact remains he’s putting himself in position to get off good shots. He’s taking good shots when he gets them. He’s active without the ball, strong with the ball, and an asset on defense. Best of all, he looks like the clear No. 3 player on a team that was determined to upgrade the No. 3 spot this offseason.
Josh Richardson is the two-way wing Dallas needed to secure the most this offseason. While the rookie wings are promising, they’re far from being ready to contribute in a playoff team’s rotation. Dallas bet a lot on Josh Richardson being the answer next to Luka Doncic, and right now, that bet looks like a winning one.
If Josh Richardson can be the player we hope he is, he can keep the Mavs afloat as Kristaps Porzingis works back from surgery. And as the season wears on, the Richardson-Doncic duo could be quite the force and key to their postseason success.
- Published on 12/15/2020 at 17:01 PM
- Last updated at 12/15/2020 at 15:22 PM