Josh Richardson has been the Philadelphia 76ers’ best player

Josh Richardson | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Josh Richardson | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

One of the Philadelphia 76ers’ big offseason acquisitions has performed beyond expectations so far.

When the Philadelphia 76ers acquired Josh Richardson from the Miami Heat this summer in a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler, it seemed like a great consolation prize for losing one of the game’s clutchest players.

Richardson was younger than Butler and played better defense, but he didn’t create his shot nearly as well, nor did he fill the “closer” role that Butler occupied. Nevertheless, Richardson was expected to be the third or fourth option on offense and be a nice complementary piece to franchise cornerstones Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

But about one month into the season, it can be argued that Richardson has been the Sixers’ best player.

More from Sixers News

Although the numbers don’t necessarily support this, Richardson’s play has warranted this debate. On the season, he is averaging 16.6 points on 38 percent shooting from three while grabbing just over one steal per game. He’s had several great offensive games, like those against the Miami Heat on Nov. 23 and the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 25, and several bad ones, like against the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 4 and Denver Nuggets on Nov. 8. But, Richardson has shown the same intensity on defense and willingness to score that made him one of the league’s most valued 3-and-D players all season.

Embiid is the Sixers’ best and most valuable player — this is indisputable. However, he is not nearly as effective as he was last season. He’s averaging fewer points (on worse efficiency), fewer rebounds, and more fouls than he did last season, in which he finished seventh in MVP voting. He still has the same flaws he has had his entire career, such as passing out of the double team and seems disinterested at times. These issues were none more apparent when, on Nov. 25, Embiid dropped 0 points and four turnovers in 32 minutes of play versus the rival Toronto Raptors. For comparison, Richardson scored a Sixers’ high 25 points in that game.

Embiid doesn’t seem nearly as dominant, nor does he seem as reliable. For a player whose team’s championship aspirations rely on his consistent dominance, that’s unacceptable.

On the other hand, Richardson has given the Sixers what they thought they were getting all along. He’s been an excellent replacement for J.J. Redick in the backcourt and an excellent defensive pairing with Ben Simmons. He has the willingness to shoot from anywhere on the court and is a solid shot creator. He’s done all that he has been asked to do, and he has arguably been the Sixers’ best player.

Next. 3 players to watch vs. Kings. dark

It’s not the numbers that make leads me to this conclusion. It’s his consistent effort, intensity, and reliability. He has performed his role excellently up to this point. It’s hard to say the same for Embiid.