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Prospect Report: The Malachi Richardson experiment begins

Lorenzo Brown goes down, Alonzo McKinnie steps up, Malcolm Miller is in a funk, and the Malachi Richardson experiment is off to a slow start.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors 905 limped their way into the All-Star Weekend — literally — as Lorenzo Brown went down with an injury. On top of that, Malcolm Miller’s shot went missing, while Alfonzo McKinnie tried to put the team on his back. And finally: Malachi Richardson made his 905 debut. Here’s the report.

Lorenzo Brown

This Week: N/A

Lorenzo Brown had an early exit due to an ankle injury against the Maine Red Claws. It looks like Brown ran into Malcolm Miller on a switch on D, and either he stepped on Miller’s foot or vice versa. It’s unfortunate for Brown, as he started off aggressively, netting 4 points and two steals in the first four minutes of the game.

Alfonzo McKinnie

This Week: 18 PTS 14-of-31 FG (45.16%), 30.77% 3FG (4-of-13), 9.5 REB, 2 AST, 1 TO, +15 +/-

If nothing else, we know now for sure: McKinnie is willing to carry the load.

Good

I guess part of Alfonzo McKinnie’s struggles/inconsistencies during his 905 campaign can stem from Bruno’s presence. For one, McKinnie now seems to be playing at a position that he’s much more comfortable in — small ball 4, where he can be around the basket more, and use his quickness and athleticism. It also helps that McKinnie is a bit more in rhythm, knowing that he’ll get his turn every second or third possession, and his touches increase if he crashes the boards.

Against the Maine Red Claws, it was good to see McKinnie hit two corner 3s in a row (plus a third in the clutch to seal the game), where he was shooting around just 30 percent before this week. McKinnie’s starting to string a few games of heart and hustle, regardless of how bad his shooting gets.

Bad

When he’s off, he’s really off. McKinnie hit 3-of-7 against the Red Claws, and I was optimistic that with much more consistent touches, his perimeter shot should improve. That was not the case against the Windy City Bulls, where his perimeter shot looked shaky.

Misc

Down three (88-91) with about 4 minutes to go, McKinnie led the 905 on a 14-3 run with pure hustle, punctuated by the dunk below.

Malcolm Miller

This Week: 6.5 PTS 5-of-22 (22.7%), 18.75% 3FG (3-of-16), 4.5 REB, 2.5 AST, 1TO, +15 +/-

Miller had a bad week, and he tried (unsuccessfully) to shoot his way out of the funk.

Good

Malcolm Miller did not shoot well from the perimeter both games, but he’s starting to show the willingness to take a perimeter shot with a defender on his face (regardless of whether he’s two feet away from the line). Miller is also getting more and more comfortable with his playmaking/passing game, especially on his drives to the basket.

Bad

Miller struggled against the Windy City Bulls, shooting 1-of-10 (1-of-8 from deep). What’s worse is that Miller had been on a nice run in games past where he would have a good drive or two to the basket once his 3-point shot got taken away, or he would find other ways to score by cutting to the basket or crashing the boards. Maybe it was because of the lack of stability at the point guard spot against the Bulls (since Lorenzo Brown did not play), but Miller’s offense looked shaky at best.

Misc

Miller has seen increased attempts from the perimeter, hoisting 7.6 shots per game for the last five games, after only averaging 3.6 in his previous five-game stretch. However, Miller’s 3FG dropped during this stretch, going 34.2% (13-of-38) compared to 50% (9-of-18).

Malachi Richardson

This Week: 4 PTS 3-15 FG (20%), 20% 3FG (1-5), 3.5 REB, 1 TO, -19 +/-

The Malachi Richardson experiment is off to a slow start.

Good

Richardson’s shooting form is solid, and it’s easy to predict that he should be decent around the perimeter, especially with space. For now, Richardson’s got that “jab right, step to the left” pull-up jumper, which is his go-to move. Richardson also showed that he can use his body to create space between his shot and his defender.

Bad

To be fair, I don’t know how much of the following can be attributed to Richardson’s lack of in-game conditioning, or his potentially still gimpy left ankle. (It looks like he tweaked his left ankle against the Red Claws.)

Richardson had a hard time getting up shots in traffic, and he was well-defended most of the time as he could not blow by his defender. Richardson needed to create space between him and his defender to have a chance at a high percentage shot. Otherwise, it seems to always lead to a blocked shot, a turnover, or a contested shot that has no chance of going in (sounds like Bruno). Richardson’s lack of explosion off the bounce is preventing him from finishing through traffic.

Defensively, Richardson does not appear as a plus defender out there, as he’s either getting caught watching the ball too much or just straight up losing his man. I can give him the pass on switching/basic defensive schemes since he’s new to the team, but getting beat by Drew Barham is inexcusable.

Misc

Richardson had a good season in the (then) D-League last year, averaging 21 points on almost 15 shots per game while shooting 44% from deep. If anything, this week should not be indicative of what Richardson can do offensively.