This is the Josh Richardson the Miami Heat were waiting for

BROOKLYN, NY - OCTOBER 5: Josh Richardson
BROOKLYN, NY - OCTOBER 5: Josh Richardson /

Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson has been playing incredible basketball lately, proving all he needed was some confidence and his health.

A healthy Josh Richardson is exactly what the Miami Heat have been waiting for. New braids and all.

Having averaged 12.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.6 blocks and 2.0 steals over three preseason games in 26.3 minutes, the 24-year-old is playing every bit like a guy who deserves a four-year, $42 million contract.

And all it took was a bill of good health. Plus the confidence that comes along with that.

The guard tipped things off recording 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks and 1 steal in 25 minutes on October 1, in a win over the Atlanta Hawks. He shot 4-of-8 from the field, and came second in scoring, only behind Tyler Johnson who had 14 points on the night. It was clear Richardson felt good, ready to contribute to the team’s 2017-18 campaign in a big way.

So naturally, Heat Nation couldn’t wait to see what he did next.

While the third-year’s stat-line didn’t look as impressive last Thursday, in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets, he still showed flashes of brilliance. Finishing the evening with 6 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal in 25 minutes, Richardson proved he could be effective on both ends of the floor. And what’s more, that he was as comfortable making plays, as he was setting up other guys for their own.

"“I put a lot of focus in getting the guys organized, getting in their sets. I’m not a guy that has to get a lot of shots every night. If I’m rolling, I’m going to put them up, but the unit I play with a lot involves Tyler Johnson in there… Wayne Ellington and Justice Winslow, I like to get them guys going first. I’m not really worried about myself.”"

Nor is he necessarily worried about snagging a starting role.

"“I know I’m still going to play plenty of minutes, so Spo is going to put the best guys out there. Whoever starts, we just need those guys to get us off to a good start, but it really comes down to who finishes it and who’s out there when the game ends.”"

Although Richardson didn’t close out last night’s loss to the Orlando Magic, as head coach Erik Spoelstra put the third unit to work, he did have an impressive game. The Oklahoma-native scored 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, going 3-for-4 from downtown. And was the team’s leading scorer, with Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters each finishing with 17 points a piece. Richardson also managed to record 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block and 4 steals, all in 29 minutes of play.

Oh, and he dunked all over Bismack Biyombo.

Obviously, Richardson is already in mid-season form.

Next: Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson is already proving his worth

Miami Heat fans are loving what they’ve seen from Josh Richardson so far. Here’s hoping for even more growth come 2017-18 regular season play.