Two Syracuse alumni were taken in the NBA DRAFT on June 23rd, and they find themselves in very different situations. Things can change on a moment’s notice, but let’s take a look at how they’ll fit in with their teams as currently constructed. (Part II on Michael Gbinije will run tomorrow.)
The first ‘Cuse guy off the board, as expected, was Malachi Richardson. He slipped a little bit to the Charlotte Hornets at #22, and was part of a deal that sent him to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Marco Belinelli. This was horrible news for Malachi.
The Kings are a disaster in many ways. They fired George Karl after finished 33-49, largely because their franchise player, Demarcus Cousins, was unable to get along with his coach, his teammates, the hot dog guy, basically anyone. It doesn’t help to have another verified head case on the roster in Rajon Rondo. Rondo might be leaving for Brooklyn via free agency, but there’s also a chance he returns. Let’s hope their stink doesn’t rub off on 20-year-old Richardson.
And of course, there’s the fact that ownership is a mess, and Vlade Divac, their General Manager appears to be severely underqualified for the job.
Looking past all of that, if even possible, there’s a lot of talent in Sacramento. Let’s assume Rondo stays for a moment. Ben McLemore is a good young player, but he underwhelmed last season opening the door for Richardson to take some minutes at shooting guard, especially with the second unit alongside Darren Collison at the point.
If Rondo leaves, and with McLemore being shopped around as well, all of a sudden the Kings may find themselves with Collison and Malachi as the starting backcourt.
Of course if both Rondo and McLemore are gone, one would assume they’d bring in a starting guard via free agency or trade, but you never know with this front office. There are just too many variables right now to get a read on the role Richardson will play in Sacramento. Anything and everything is on the table.
The one thing we do know for sure, assuming he stays in Sacramento and isn’t shipped off again, is that Malachi will be playing with a superstar center in Cousins, problems and all. Hopefully management figures out how to put the right pieces on the floor, Richardson included, and the playoffs won’t be too far off in the future. I wouldn’t hold my breath though.