Malachi Richardson surely expected the Sacramento Kings to be bad. He came to a team that is in rebuilding mode and coming off of a 33-49 season along with some questionable free agency moves. Not to mention they play in the same division as the Golden State Warriors. But Richardson probably wasn’t expecting it to be as bad as their Summer League opener indicated. An 88-47 loss at the hands of the Toronto Raptors wasn’t the result he was expecting. And for a guy like Richardson, who never lost by more than 17 points in his college career, the loss certainly served as a reality check.
Now before SU fans get up in arms saying Richardson should have returned for another year in college, the 22nd overall pick was a semi-bright spot in the team’s disastrous loss. He tied for a team high seven points along with Willie Cauley-Stein and fellow first rounder Skal Labissiere. Richardson also pulled down three boards, but finished with an alarming minus-33. However, that negative rating isn’t as bad as it may seem. In fact, some positives can be drawn from it. The 20-year-old played the second most minutes on the team, which can be attributed to his ghastly plus/minus figure. It also shows that the Kings’ brass has trust in his abilities and want to use the Summer League to improve the raw skills that Richardson possesses.
However, there were some red flags to his debut, most notably at the free throw line. The guard wasn’t an extraordinary shooter from the charity stripe in college (72%), but free throw shooting is usually a quality indicator of shooting ability in the NBA. Richardson went 2-4 from the line. A figure like this needs to be more consistent if he wants significant playing time as a rookie. There is still plenty of time for Richardson to turn that figure around, and free throw shooting is a skill that can be improved with more time at the NBA level. He gets his next shot to showcase his ability today at 6:30 against the Houston Rockets.