As we’ve long suspected – despite so many people deciding that Denial is lovely this time of year – Malachi Richardson has reportedly decided to keep his name in the upcoming NBA Draft, according to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford.
Both Malachi Richardson & Cheick Diallo told teams in interviews today that they've decided to stay in the draft.
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 13, 2016
This doesn’t come as a surprise – especially if you’ve listened to any of my recent podcasts, where I’ve said flat out he wouldn’t be back, you bunch of no-listening jerks. Once Malachi pulled out of the 5-on-5 sessions (citing back issues, but that’s about as believable as Mark Coyle’s “family reasons” if we’re being honest), it became evident that he would be the latest one-and-done for Syracuse.
Richardson averaged 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in his one season with the Orange, most notably torching ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon for 21 second half points during the team’s stunning Final Four run. It’s safe to say that’s the game that put Richardson on the map, and caused NBA scouts to take a much closer look at the 6-foot-6, streaky shooting guard. Richardson hit 35.3% from three point range, though that was a bit up and down over the course of the year.
Yesterday at the NBA Draft Combine, he put up some of the best numbers and measurables among any of the wing players, with a 7-foot wingspan, a 38-inch vertical, and one of the best lane agility times of the day. In other words, his athleticism was even better than anticipated, and considering the fact he went in viewed as a good, but not great athlete, it basically knocked one potential red flag off the list for scouts.
Now, Syracuse will move ahead without Richardson. Next year the Orange could have been in the top 5-10 range with him, but there’s still plenty of talent on the roster to become a top 15-20 team. Syracuse should be able to pick up some of the slack on his scoring, particularly with the addition of Tyus Battle – who is now, more than ever, a lock to start at one of the guard positions – but it’s Richardson’s ability to knock it down from long distance that Syracuse will miss the most.
Tyler Lydon and John Gillon are the only two proven three point shooters on next year’s roster, so it’ll be interesting to see who else may step up, or if Syracuse will continue sorting through late 2016 additions or potential other graduate transfers to help fill the void.
Either way, I really hope that Syracuse fans wish Malachi Richardson nothing but the best with this decision. While I think he certainly could have benefited from one more year at SU, I sure as hell won’t begrudge him wanting to get to the NBA. He helped give us a Final Four run, which is more than any other one-and-done has ever done for Syracuse, apart from some guy named Carmelo.
Good luck, Malachi. Most of Orange nation will be rooting awfully hard for you to get picked high and succeed at the next level.