The dominoes continue to fall for Syracuse as highly-touted freshman Kadary Richmond is the latest to enter the transfer portal, joining Robert Braswell and John Bol Ajak.
Richmond was the only non-starter to average over 20 minutes a game. The freshman played the all-important role of sixth man and defensive stopper down the stretch. The Brooklyn native added three assists (top 20 in conference), two steals (4th in ACC) and 45% shooting from the field.
How does this change the framework of the Orange moving forward?
Although the talk of players entering the transfer portal isn’t over, this might have been the worst case scenario for SU. Richmond adds another layer to both sides of the ball. On offense, he exemplifies a true point guard. This allows Buddy Boeheim and Alan Griffin to take the spot-up shooter role, and others like Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj to dominate inside the arc.
On the other hand, Joe Girard doesn’t give the Orange that option and often fails to run a free-flowing half court set.
Richmond also provides a driving presence to the rim. This results in drive-and-kick opportunities, which Braswell, Boeheim, Griffin and Guerrier took advantage of. Girard is a three-point specialist and that’s it. Of the 259 shots he took this season, 58% were attempted from long range. The sophomore only made eight more twos than he did threes. If SU’s only alternative to Richmond’s absence is Girard (as of now is the case), the Orange better hope that the Glens Falls native finds a way to exponentially improve his 33% clip from downtown.
On the defensive side, Syracuse takes two steps back. Many of the Fizz staff members recognized the freshman point guard as SU’s best defensive player and for good reason. Richmond was the savior at the top of the zone when teams easily penetrated it early. He alone would provide enough of a presence to tighten up the top of the 2-3. His length, athleticism and anticipation gave him the ability to limit entries into the high post, prevent drives from the top of the key and halt open shooters on the wing.
Syracuse allowed the second worst three-point percentage in the ACC because of Richmond’s defense from wing to wing. It’s hard to get off good shots when a player constantly gets his hand in the passing lane. The freshman did just that with three or more steals in seven games, while no other SU player had more than four.
Richmond bailed out Boeheim and Girard many times throughout this season, and without him, the Orange have to do one of two things. Either teach the starting front court the intricacies of a good 2-3 zone or hard press the transfer portal for a defensive-minded guard.