Josh Richardson defies the numbers as a Miami Heat threat

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 3: Josh Richardson
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 3: Josh Richardson /

Josh Richardson is evolving into a two-way threat for the Miami Heat.

Defense, defense and more defense. For years teams have preached that championships are won on that end of the floor. However in today’s NBA, the name of the game is offensive firepower, mixed with the ability to get a stop.

In the Miami Heat locker room, that responsibility is falling on an unlikely source.

Hassan Whiteside would be the natural choice for such a distinction, if it were not for a few factors. The Heat’s $98 million man rarely gets quality offensive touches, tends to lose focus and has only played 15 of 23 games this season.

Which is why Josh Richardson has to qualify as Miami’s best two-way player.

A casual look at the surface statistics show that Richardson has dropped in almost every category except steals. On the flip side, the eye test relays that on a night-to-night basis, he is usually the one giving maximum effort on both sides of the ball—especially with his affinity for chase down steals and his mission to break Dwyane Wade’s record for blocked shots.

Dive a little deeper into the stats and Richardson sports the highest defensive win share percentage (48) on the team. Which, in part, includes not being afraid to literally get into the jersey of the opponent’s best perimeter player. Similarly to the way he did against the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving.

That type of aggression allows him to hold players to field goal numbers seven percentage below their average.

On the offensive side of things, Richardson’s play has been up and down enough to make people question his four-year, $42 million extension. But with breakout games like a 27-point career-high, things are starting to look more up than down.

Richardson’s field goal numbers are slowly creeping towards his rookie season’s 45 percent range. And his first-year’s 46 percent 3-point shooting gives hope to where he can be if his shooting form continues to round into shape.

However, the evolution of his offense will eventually come from being able to show he can score more frequently when he puts the ball on the floor.

53 percent of Richardson’s points come off of two dribbles or more. Unfortunately, that number comes on 0.9 attempts per game. Not exactly a number to celebrate about, but it can be improved on.

Richardson has had his shaky moments, but he is adjusting well to his new role and position of starting small forward. His defense is not going anywhere and his offense seems to be growing, with a 13.4 point per game average over the last five games.

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With any luck, he will live up to the Eddie Jones comparisons. And that is a win for everybody.