Philadelphia 76ers: Time for Josh Richardson to end his slump

Josh Richardson | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Josh Richardson | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers’ shooting guard has a prime opportunity to end his extended cold spell.

Since his return from injury shortly before the All-Star break, Josh Richardson has found it difficult to establish a rhythm in the Philadelphia 76ers‘ offense. The two-guard has seen his production bottom out across the board, and his most recent performances have not soothed any concerns.

Over the past eight games, Richardson is averaging 9.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 29.6 minutes. He’s shooting 37.3 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from deep during that span. Not the best batch of games.

The Sixers need Richardson to step it up, especially in lieu of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. It is then reasonable to proclaim this upcoming road trip as a test of Richardson’s mettle, and above all else, a chance to get back on track.

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Without Embiid and Simmons, Richardson morphs into the de facto No. 2 option behind Tobias Harris. That burden has fallen more on Shake Milton in recent contests, but in a more ideal version of reality, Richardson can carry the burden of a 20-point scorer when needed.

This season has made clear the differences between Richardson and his predecessor, Jimmy Butler. He fills a similar niche on paper, but Richardson isn’t half the passer Butler is, and his meandering pick-and-rolls tend to have less effect. And yet, Richardson remains a skilled three-level scorer who can playmake on the side, something the Sixers desperately need at the moment.

Philadelphia has struggled on the road all season, and Richardson is no exception. A four-game road trip — one that could feature appearances from LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Stephen Curry — is no small task. The Sixers will need a degree of luck to avoid a four-game gut punch.

The Sixers will also need Richardson to return to form. He’s valuable as not only a source of shot creation, but as a defender. When Richardson has it going on offense, it typically translates to the defensive end. He’s still a grade-A perimeter deterrent.

This road trip gives Richardson a prime opportunity to shoot his way out of a slump. He will have his moments as a playmaking valve in Brett Brown’s depleted rotation, but overall, Richardson is arguably the most dynamic shot-maker left on the roster. He should get his share of chances to prove it.

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Richardson has emerged as an emotional leader for the Sixers. He’s someone who commands respect in the locker room, and his fiery presence on the court is a nice change of pace from Butler’s more stoic demeanor last season. Still, the production needs to follow suit. Now is as good a time as any for Richardson to find his groove.