By Matt George, Sports 1140 KHTK
Selected 22nd in the 2016 NBA Draft, Malachi Richardson was turning heads and earning respect with his solid play for the Sacramento Kings last season. Interestingly enough, Richardson played only 22 games his rookie year before going down with a partially torn hamstring.
Prior to his injury against the Golden State Warriors on February 15th, Richardson was enjoying a good stretch of play. He had scored 10 points against the Warriors before the injury, and had recently dropped a career high 12 points in a major upset win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There was a buzz among Sacramento Kings fans that the team may have finally found their shooting guard of the future. This was all before the DeMarcus Cousins trade for Buddy Hield. However, since that trade, and the addition of young and exciting talent like De’Aaron Fox and Bogdon Bogdonovic, much of that buzz has died out.
Richardson spoke with KHTK prior to the Sacramento Kings preseason win over the San Antonio Spurs, “I wouldn’t say I lost momentum. Tonight was my first full game since the injury. I think it is more about timing, getting my feet wet again, and just getting ready to play”.
With the addition of Hield, Bogdonovic, Justin Jackson, and the rest of the young talent, Richardson knew that he would have to battle for minutes and a consistent spot in head coach Dave Joerger’s rotation.
“It has been fun. There is nothing wrong with competition. Training camp has been good for all of us. We have learned a lot, all gotten better, and have battled every single day.”
Despite his competitiveness, Richardson admitted that the offseason was a long and hard battle.
“This summer was very rough actually. Being able to work out, then re-aggravating the injury, getting to training camp, and then re-doing it again.”
The 21-year-old shooting guard has faced his fair share of adversity in his still very raw career, but he believes it has made him a better player. Tonight, in his first game back against the Spurs, he managed a solid 17 minutes and drained a wide-open three-pointer in transition.
“No second thoughts. Everything was good tonight.”
When asked if he felt like everything was back to normal and if he was ready to re-introduce the fans to the new and improved Malachi Richardson, he smiled and said, “That’s the plan”.