Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
|2010-2011 regular season||Quentin Richardson|
During the offseason, Quentin Richardson was brought in via free agency to replace the departed Matt Barnes, who opted out of the final year of his contract in hopes of securing a bigger payday from the Orlando Magic or another team. General manager Otis Smith made the decision not to acquiesce to Barnes’ demands, especially after Barnes aired out his business on Twitter (he wondered aloud why he didn’t get an offer from the Magic). As such, Richardson was signed as his replacement.
Richardson was brought in as a free agent because it was thought that he could provide a stronger presence defensively. Although Barnes was 6-foot-8, his slight frame made it easy for the likes of LeBron James, Paul Pierce, and others to overpower him with their strength. So even though Richardson was slightly undersized for the small forward position, the line of thinking was that he could make up for it with his muscular physique.
Likewise, another reason that Richardson was signed by Smith was due to his ability to shoot three-pointers with accuracy.
Barnes became an achilles heel for Orlando against the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals because of his inability to make their defense pay by leaving him open on the perimeter. Time and again, the Celtics would cheat off of Barnes around the three-point line, sagging towards Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, and Dwight Howard in the process. But Barnes couldn’t knock down shots consistently. Barnes’ three-point percentage for the season was 31.9 percent and that was a chink in the armor of the Magic’s offensive attack that couldn’t be overcome in the Conference Finals.
On the flipside, Richardson shot a career-high 39.7 percent on three-pointers with the Miami Heat in the same year and even though it was to be expected that he would regress to the mean with Orlando, given that his career percentage from three-point range is 35.5 percent, no one could have imagined that he would shoot worse than Barnes from beyond the arc.
Richardson’s percentage this season?
There’s regression to the mean based on standard deviation, then there’s an outlier. Unfortunately for the Magic, they got the latter from Richardson. It was a career-worst year for Richardson with his three-point shot and as such, Smith got minimal return on his investment.
Richardson’s long-range marksmanship going awry isn’t the only reason that his minutes dropped drastically compared to previous years.
The arrival of Hedo Turkoglu is another reason. Richardson started 19 of Orlando’s first 23 games of the season, with Lewis starting at the small forward position on the other nights, and he did okay. Richardson’s defense was never much of an issue but since his three-point shooting came and went, he was making no more than a minor impact for the Magic overall. And with Orlando’s offense sputtering midseason, Turkoglu was re-acquired, he started at small forward, and just like that, Richardson’s role went from starter to benchwarmer. It wasn’t until later in the season, when the Magic’s issues defensively were becoming more and more pronounced, did Richardson began to get playing time again.
All of a sudden, with Orlando desperately seeking perimeter defense as well as wanting a dose of toughness, Richardson began to be a guy called upon by head coach Stan Van Gundy to provide those specific services for the team.
The problem is that even though Richardson does his job defensively, more often than not, he’s not one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA. For the Magic to heavily rely on Richardson to shut down the likes of Joe Johnson in the playoffs says everything about the lack of defense on the roster.
Through it all, though, Richardson was a consummate professional.
When Richardson was removed from Van Gundy’s rotation after Turkoglu was plugged in as the starter at the small forward position, he took it in stride and remained supportive of his teammates from his seat on the bench. The camaraderie, the positivity, the unselfishness, these are the attributes that Richardson displayed consistently and he should be recognized for that even though he failed to produce on the court.
There’s always a room for a player like Richardson on the roster and the hope for Orlando is that his numbers can bounce back, that way he is able to contribute to the team on the floor as much as he does off the floor.