Edmond Native and Old Friend Josh Richardson To Work Out For Thunder

With the 2015 NBA draft being on Thursday, the Oklahoma City Thunder are getting their last workouts in from possible prospects. One that stuck out to me is my childhood friend, and Oklahoma native, Josh Richardson, senior shooting guard out of the University of Tennessee. As many may know, this guy was one of many stand-out basketball players to come out of Santa Fe High School in Edmond, Oklahoma. After watching Josh’s last two seasons at the University of Tennessee, I became optimistic on him having an NBA career, then when I saw his offensive improvement and All-SEC First Team honors he received this year, I started thinking that he would be great as our second round pick.

Josh is a 6’6 200 pound defensive specialist that seemed to improve his offensive game this last season at Tennessee. Starting three full seasons at Tennessee, Josh was expected to do great things, but in most people’s mind that meant a long and successful overseas career. Well, that clearly wasn't in his plans. Richardson has great length for a shooting guard in the league and one thing I noticed is that he moves quickly at all times, even when he doesn't have the ball. I saw him come in as a timid freshman that didn't seem 100 percent comfortable handling the ball that turned into a true ball-handler, that never seemed overwhelmed even when there was a press put on him. He increased his three point percentage from a sub-par 24 percent his freshman year to 35 percent his senior year. Thats still something he needs to improve on, but considering that drastic difference I think it’s very reachable. Plus, I forgot to mention, he shoots 50 percent when wide open from three pointer. Thats very respectable numbers. He averaged 16 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game in college.

Josh is and always has been known for his defensive game. He’s come a very long way though. Growing up with him, playing against him multiple times, I always remember him being the awkward, tall and skinny kid who couldn’t do anything really but block shots, and he was a post man, nothing more at the time. The transformation has been amazing. Now, his NBA caliber size and quickness allows him to jump passing lanes very well and rack up a lot of steals. He averaged a little over 2 steals per 40 minutes which ranked sixth among NCAA guards. He has the potential to grow into a tough defensive player and three point shooter in the league. That’s something we don’t have on the Thunder right now. Roberson is the best defensive player we have and his strong point isn't so much shooting, only at home seemingly.

Josh has a few things to work on if he wants to stay in the league for a long time.

  1. *He has to develop his body, get bigger and stronger. He's playing a tough, gritty position in the NBA so 200 pounds may not cut it, with the type of game that he plays. He lacks the girth to physically defend premier players that play the two and the three, players like Lebron James and James Harden. *
  2. *Gain more control offensively as he handles the ball. His assist to turnover ratio decreased from his junior to senior year. (But that could be because of his increased ball-handling.)*
  3. *Doesn't have an intimidating defensive stance, he appears lackadaisical at times, which caused him to get beat off the dribble a little too often. *

These are all things that he can fix on his own, they don’t take any transformative, outrageous amount of work. Its safe to say that those are all very reachable weaknesses to overcome. Like noted earlier, Josh was named to All-SEC First Team in 2015, All-SEC Defensive Team in 2014 and 2015 and with 67 steals, he ties a Tennessee record for most steals by a senior. This is a great kid that will if not anything else, bring great character to this Thunder team, something they have a lot of already but could always use some more. He would fit right in and I think that he would be a great choice for OKC’s 48th pick.