The Miami Heat have a cadre of shooting guards on the roster, all aspiring to take Dwayne Wade’s former role in the starting lineup. Who’s the best suited for the job?
Josh Richardson, undoubtedly would be the best option to play alongside point guard Goran Dragic.
Goran is the type of point guard that needs the ball is his hands to run the offense which warrants a shooting guard that’s willing to accept that. This is possibly the reason his numbers dropped over the past few years. Dwayne Wade was the number one guy and often ran the offense himself although he was a shooting guard on the roster. Dragic is simply a better player when he’s in control of the offense. There’s no better way to explain that. When Wade was in Miami, everyone, including Goran, knew who the number one guy was on offense and who the ball was going to. That’s something that really began to cripple Dragic and made him less of a factor in the game. Because of that, often times the offense looked stagnant, with Wade scoring on two, sometimes three straight possessions. Now, with Wade gone, the pressure for Dragic to lead the show is on.
Last season, only one player averaged more than 20 points per game and as you probably already assumed, it was Wade, averaging 21.5. However, not too far back was Chris Bosh who averaged 19.1, but due to his health problems throughout the season, it didn’t make an impact when it counted. Although Bosh is expected to be back in action for the 2016-2017 season, Miami doesn’t have Wade at shooting guard which leaves them in the same position as last season if someone doesn’t step up. That person to step up will more than likely be Richardson.
Many think there’s no question; Dion Waiters should be the starting shooting guard, but after watching him in both Cleveland and Oklahoma City it’s obvious that he wants the ball in his hands, a lot. The fact that he’s proven to only be an asset offensively when the ball is in his hands raises some red flags and considering his wishy-washy production over the past few years, collectively, that could be bad for the team. What this Heat team needs is someone who will submit. Someone who knows his role on the team, can cut towards the basket and do positive things without the ball, setting up options for Dragic. Not someone who needs the ball in his hands every other possession, or someone who may or may not be productive consistently.
Richardson (6’6, 200) is the perfect candidate for this. He’s a young, team guy who doesn’t mind doing the dirty work on both offense and defense. He only averages 6.6 points per game but don’t let that fool you. He’s entering his second season and continues to get better in one or more aspects of his game, dating back to his high school days in Edmond, Oklahoma, and college at Tennessee.
Another pro for Richardson is his consistent defensive play, he doesn’t take possessions off. There were instances where Josh, an obvious guard would get a big time block on the defensive end, setting up a fast break and a Sportscenter Top 10 dunk to end the entire sequence on the offensive end. His 6’6 200-pound frame, with an eagle-like wingspan makes for an elite perimeter defender. Actually, in a lot of cases, he could defend the power forward position too. Although he may be outmatched talent-wise against some of the best perimeter players, his length and quickness will act as a security blanket for him when and if he does get beat. A player he resembles greatly is Bruce Bowen; the same type of defensive-minded player that became a bit of an offensive threat throughout his career.
Something else to think about regarding defense…Dragic can’t play it. He’s an offensive-minded player, so when it’s time to face elite point guards like Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, John Wall and Steph Curry (if you consider him a point guard), there could be a huge problem. Josh would be the answer. His quickness would allow him to make a switch and guard a quick, smaller guard to bail out Dragic in those situations. Richardson could be the undoubted defensive specialist who guards the best perimeter player on each and every team the Heat face.
Dion Waiters showed that he has the ability to be a lockdown defender at times in Oklahoma City but just like his offensive game, it was inconsistent. The best bet for him is coming off the bench as the expected sixth man. That would give him the opportunity to do what he did in Oklahoma City, in an offense that may be better suited for him.
Richardson is a three point threat. Shooting 46 percent from the three-point line which is a high enough percentage to consider him a threat. Therefore defenses can’t ignore him, which allows Dragic to finally be a true, 100 percent floor general and get other players involved like he’d prefer. Competitors ignorance to Richardson’s shooting ability helped move him into the spotlight. Last season, it was primarily all about Wade. After Wade, all focus went to Whiteside, Dragic and Winslow, but definitely not second-round draft pick Richardson. This ignorance to his offensive ability alone allowed him to have some success in his rookie season which built his confidence.
Dwayne Wade won’t be wearing a Heat jersey for the first time in 13 years. This has been his team, but Josh Richardson has the foundation to do the same. Erik Spoelstra, give him this role and he will show why he’s the man for the job.