The Hornets selected Syracuse guard Malachi Richardson with the No. 22 pick in the 2016 NBA draft. Richardson is set to go to the Kings in the pre-draft trade that landed Charlotte Marco Belinelli.
Richardson made waves amid Syracuse’s surprise run to the Final Four this spring and rose up boards over the past month during the pre-draft evaluation process. He averaged 13.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in his lone college season.
Strengths: Richardson left school after one season because of two qualities that appeal to NBA teams: his shooting stroke and incredible length. Richardson only shot 35.3% from three-point land as a freshman at Syracuse, but has perfected a gorgeous shooting stroke. He pairs that form with tremendous length for his size and position, owning a 7’0” wingspan. With that size, Richardson should have the tools to guard multiple positions. He’s not only a solid catch–and–shoot player, but Richardson can also attack closeouts off the dribble. At just 20, NBA teams see the foundation for a complete, well-rounded NBA wing.
Weaknesses: While Richardson is known as a shooter, his stroke is extremely streaky, as his numbers show. He did not score efficiently from anywhere on the floor, only converting 36.9% of his shots from the field. His defensive ability outside of Syracuse’s 2–3 zone is a very big question. Richardson is not a particularly great athlete—despite his 38” max vertical at the Combine—lacking quickness and explosiveness. He’ll need to prove his ability to defend in on-ball perimeter situations.
Grade: B-. The Kings reportedly acquired this pick from the Hornets for Marco Belinelli earlier in the night. Richardson rose up boards over the past month, with his shooting ability and 7-foot wingspan at shooting guard making for an interesting long-term gamble. It can be tough to peg players who establish stock largely off NCAA tourney performances, and I was never quite sold, given he was an older prospect for his class and that his game was somewhat one-dimensional. At least Sacramento needs wing help and is aiming high here. — Jeremy Woo