The day, August 7, 2011. San Antonio Spurs draftee Ryan Richards led Great Britain to a 96-70 victory over the Netherlands in exhibition play as both teams were preparing for the 2011 Eurobasket.
I have fond memories recapping that game because it was the one game where I saw a lot of potential in Richards. He led the team by scoring 16 points in a short amount of playing time.
It wasn't the points that were impressive, it was the way that he scored them.
Richards displayed his versatility on offense by making 3-pointers, squaring up his defender and sinking a jumper in his face, finishing in the post with a left-handed hook shot and attacking the rim with force.
Defensively, he was so quick that when he was switched onto small forwards or guards, he could match up with them relatively well.
Fast forward to Richards’ Summer League game on Sunday, in which the Spurs defeated the Atlanta Hawks 82-76, Richards once again displayed those same skills, but he also showed why he’s still a very raw prospect.
Through the course of the Spurs’ five games in Vegas this week, I’m going to be analyzing Richards’ game on both sides of the ball and I’ll have a final assessment next week on whether or not I think he’s ready to play at the NBA level.
Against the Hawks, Richards didn't play in the entire first half. He was finally inserted into the game at the 7:05 mark of the third quarter.
One of the first noticeable attributes of Richards is his size. Yes he’s got the height and length at 6’11”, but his body looked very lanky, it didn't look like he had a lot of muscle compared to the rest of the players on the court. Our own Trevor Zickgraf, who was at the game, said Richards does look a little smaller in body size, but with Eric Dawson playing at 250-pounds, it made Richards look a lot thinner. Almost “Kevin Durant” thin.
One of his first plays was a turnover. As Kawhi Leonard was holding the ball at the top of the key, Richards was trying to gain position in the paint, he was called for a three-second lane violation.
A few plays later, Richards was given the ball in the post. He received the ball about 8-feet away from the basket, posted his defender two feet in, then spun around his defender quickly to attempt a left-handed hook shot. He missed the shot, but his quickness and ability to spin so fast made it clear his defender had no chance of blocking the shot.
A few plays later, Richards was trying to get position in the paint and he got called for an offensive foul for pushing his defender. Though it was another turnover, you have to like that Richards never stops moving. He’s constantly either in the paint trying to get post position, or rotating around the perimeter to attack from the top.
On the next play, he made a bad read on defense. As he was involved in a pick-and-roll, he hedged toward the guard, but left his player with too much room to cut in for an easy dunk.
A few plays later, Richards displayed his quickness on defense. He was involved in a screen-and-roll and had to defend a small forward on the perimeter. As the small forward tried to cross Richards and drive at the basket, Richards was so quick to prevent the move that the offensive player was called for a travel. Having this skill to rotate and guard any player on the floor can be a real plus for Richards as long as he continues to work on his decision making and footwork on defense.
Richards’ only two points came on a play where he set a screen, and rolled to the basket and got fouled. After Richards set the screen for Cory Joseph, Joseph quickly fed Richards the ball, Richards immediately used a hop-step to get into the paint and draw contact from two defenders.
On another play when a Spurs guard was trapped on the perimeter, Richards made his way up to the top of the key, he received the pass and shot a long 18-foot jumper, he missed the shot. It’s not that he missed the shot that’s to note, it’s that he knows how to get the ball in his hands. He’ll first go into the paint area and try to get position in the post, if that’s not working and the guards are having trouble feeding the big men, he’s lucky enough to have a perimeter game that he runs right to the 3-point line so the guard can feed him the ball. That’s a skill DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter lack, the ability to play inside and outside.
One area I noticed where he needs improvement is in his anticipations when defending the pick-and-roll. He had trouble hedging either too little or too late on several plays when he had to be involved in defending a pick-and-roll.
One of his last plays touching the ball was in the third quarter. He tried to post his defender from 15-feet outside the paint. A double-team came when he was posting, and he almost lost the ball. A teammate picked the ball up to save him from another turnover.
Richards played half of the fourth quarter before Luke Zeller and Dawson finished the game in the frontcourt. But in his five-minute fourth quarter stint, Richards displayed his ability to draw contact. He caught the ball at 18-feet above the key, similar to where Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks catches the ball, and Richards immediately started to post his defender. After throwing a few shoulder fakes and shaking his defender, he drew a foul because he was so quick to make a move and get free.
One of his last plays of the fourth quarter was a missed wide open 3-pointer before being pulled out of the game. Again it’s not the miss that’s intriguing, it’s his ability to know where to go on the floor to get open shots or points of attack.
One area he also needs to improve on is his rebounding. He either doesn't seem aggressive at trying to nab boards, or just doesn't have the physical frame to grab them from the post players with more strength. The reason I’m going to analyze each game is because if you didn't see the game, you’d think Richards did nothing by looking at his stat line.
11:07 minutes, 2 points, 0/3 shooting (0/1 3-PT), 2/2 FT, 2 rebounds, 1 foul, 2 turnovers.
Yes it doesn't look like he did much, but Richards finished the game with a +/- rating of +5. Richards is very raw, he had two early turnovers on his part, but once he got settled in, he looked more comfortable on both ends of the floor.
It’s just a one-game sample of Richards in Summer League play, but as the Spurs prepare for the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, it’ll be interesting to see what kinds of strides or setbacks Richards has in his next game.
Thanks I needed that great article and keeping coming.
In a viedo Richards said his game is similar to Chris Bosh and Lamar Odom and thats cool, they both have rings, but they both played with Hall of Famers in their prime.
If Richards can block some shots (1 a game), play defense, score and handle the ball, it sounds like he will make the team this year. The only way he will be a better rebounder is to play in the NBA, he will not learn how to rebound by playing in Euorpe, rebounding does not appear to be in the DNA for most Bigs who play in Europe.
FYI, please notice that the Spurs may be the only team that has not been televised live in the Summer League yet. They took a back seat to two other teams. I know that Spurs play on NBATV later today,but the Spurs need an athletic Big so they can and become more marketable and command TV airtime nationwide. This will be CRITICAL for the Spurs chanimpishop hopes. Markeability means the Spurs will get the benefit of the doubt in the playoffs with respect to close calls.
@PopKat Unfortunately its easy for a player to say he's like this guy or that guy, and more unfortunate is the fact that he has only played sub-par competition so far in his career. Don't count on him making it to spurs THIS year, but Toros would be a nice place for him to improve.
Spurs only have LA game on nbatv that will be live, rest will be on replay the day after games.
@rtesoro440 lol it's Whiteside not whitehead. Still VERY raw but maybe worth a look..just dont bet on it.
No one should be judged too aggressively, it's just one game. There is no chemistry between any of the players so it's not that big of a deal. Richards has some skill, and he looks pretty quick for a 7 footer. He didn't play all that much so I wouldn't expect all that much in such short playing time. But so far, he looks raw. Decent and raw. I liked how he moved on defense, getting to spots on the court and not getting burned. I think his athleticism is an advantage, especially at that size. Leonard did what was expected, and showed everyone he might have a clutch gene the way he performed in the finals minutes of the game. That crossover he did in the 4th quarter which led to him slashing into the lane for an AND1 was fucking badass. Leonard is more than I expected. Joseph played extremely well too, and looked way more confident, especially when shooting. I need to see more though, it's just one game. After 2 or three games, I'll be more comfortable giving out my opinions on certain players. But Leonard, he is set. The summer league is just a tune up game for him and a time where he can practice his game and go crazy.
@ajd21 Yeah, I think it is safe to say now that Leonard was another incredible steal by the FO especially considering the kind of money Hill was asking for in Indiana. I hope Kawhi keeps working on his one on one skills because he would become a great all-around player then. Joseph looked shaky starting off but then got better as the team got into a rhythm. I was definitely rooting for Cory after I saw him at Chili's a few days ago and got his autograph!!! It was awesome :-D
His hustle and athleticism stood out to me. Having just watched the replay on NBA TV, it was very clear that Richards wanted to play and wanted the ball. His constant movement like Paul Garcia said was very impressive. He was posting and re-posting all over the court. His speed on defense is amazing for his size. Seeing it on Youtube is one thing, but on the court with Spurs players who you more or less know their speed makes Richards look incredibly fast for 6'11". With all the trouble we've had on pick and rolls, Richards seems to be worth picking up just because of his quickness on the defensive end of the court. His rotations were ridiculous and caused a couple travels because guards were afraid Richards instantly being in position and ready to swat their shot into the 2nd row. Offensively, he is definitely still a raw prospect. Timmy should work with him to show him how to handle double teams when posting up because as soon as Richards got doubled he got scared, jumped towards the baseline trying to throw a fade-away pass to the top of the key. He needs to understand that he is 6'11" and guards are of little threat to him when he has the ball above his chest. That being said, Richards wanted the ball, and put himself in position to get the ball almost every single time down the court.
While it would take him some time to get adjusted to the system, I think the Spurs should sign him unless the get a big man with a name (Scola, Kaman, McGee, Brand, etc...). Since the names I just mentioned are gone or going to get re-signed with their teams, I would suggest the Spurs sign Richards and develop him. Let's put it this way, Richards CANNOT be any worse than Splitter was offensively his first year and Richards has way more upside defensively than Splitter. So why not bring him on board and trade Bonner and Blair for something a little valuable?
It will not do harm to explore the possibility of a trade between the Warriors' Tyler and Blair. Yes, Tyler was a dropout but, he is long, young and really big and could be developed. I not aware of a team interested in Bonner.
Blair and Neal may bring some return for the Spurs. Like I said, the Spurs should explore into the possibility of a trade for Jeremy Tyler of the Warriors. He is not a 1st round draft and a trade for a ist round draft maybe too much to ask for. I can't think of a team willing to trade their ist round draft for Blair even ading Neal and Anderson (sign & trade). Why don't the Spurs amnesty Bonner?
@Ironwill71 @PopKat Amnesty on Bonner would be a waste of asset we might need down the road (the amnesty) Its designed to dump Big/bad contracts and it wouldn't get Spurs NEAR being under cap, so why do it? You can't get a different 3-4 mil player to replace him if youre still over cap. You can only sign a player for vet min or whatever's left from exception (which aint much) Furthermore, bons deal is not guaranteed NEXT year so we can cut him then OR his deal would have more value to other teams in trade as an expiring. THAT way we CAN get return on him then AND still hold our amnesty. Plus he could still possibly be traded this year..stranger things have happened
@PopKat At this point... I think if we can't get something for Bonner we should waive him. There are better uses for that 3.6 and 3.9, and so little time left for Duncan and Manu. Unfortunately, the Red Rocket has his fan base in SA and elsewhere, and SA is not the type of team that would just cut him - even if its what they should do from a business perspective.
Bonner does not make enough money ( $3.9M) t no receive amnesty. I believe Bonner will make $3.6m 2012-2013 and $3.9m 2013-2014 (not guaranteed).
So the Spurs are in catch 22 with Bonner he cannot make 3 point baskets in the playoffs, cannot make 3 point shots on the road in the regular season, can't play defense, cannot handle the ball and every GM in the NBA knows this.
In order to trade Bonner, the Spurs can only hope for a team who wants an expiring contract
@rtesoro440 @CraigThomas As I replied in other post theres simply no way GSW would consider that deal..Tyrus has much more upside and size. But don't assume that Spurs havent suggested it, because we all know FO doesnt release virtually any info like that. And although noone has heard of interest in Bonner, thats understandable as now is the time that teams are more focused on FAs and waived players. Its possible once those guys are gone that teams will consider moves for signed players of Bonners caliber
@rtesoro440 lol I don't know anyone interested in Bonner either but after this past year's no-show once again for Bonner, I really hope he is gone before the start of the season.
@CraigThomas I have to agree, RR looked better on defense. Which is one way into Pop's heart. I think he could develop into something special with the correct training.
Watching his 3 pointers, I thought his moving around leagues and not having a set workout routine, left him out of shape. That probably explained why he seemed to have no push from his legs, leaving his shot short. He seemed to defend well, denying his man the ball.
IF he looks OK the rest of the summer league, bring him into training camp, then probably the D-League should be his home. Give him some rope and let's see what he can do.
@LakehillsFan He's a much better hope then Dawson who looked exhausted during one timeout in the first half... Dawson is pretty much grounded into the floor and not what we need at PF (an undersized and non-athletic PF). Has anyone heard any rumors about Darko coming to SA by the way? I believe he passed the bidding phase of Minnesota's amnesty and is now an UFA. Are we pursuing him at all?
@CraigThomas @LakehillsFan Good observations on RR. I expect to see better stuff from him in next few games too.No news that I have seen as yet on Darko and Spurs, although Spurs wouldn't release that info anyway lol. But I know a few teams are already looking..Our best hope is that he wants to go to a contender and willing to take a small deal
If no trade for big man is possible, the Spurs may sign some of these summer league guys. It seems the team has 14 players in the lineup.So as it is, just one slot is open. Denmon may not make it as Corey Joseph appears to have improved. The first priority is to sign a big man. Are Dawson and Jamychal Green big enough? Richards appears not
ready. The team needs another sf. Will Derrick Byars pass? Remember that wire news about the Warriors being interested in a trade with the Spurs except for the ist round pick? Why don't they explore the matter? Maybe Jeremy Tyler for Blair may work out.
@rtesoro440 I don't think we need another SF. We already have Kawhi starting, Jackson backing him up, and Danny Green can be moved to SF if we want to go small ball. I want Kawhi's minutes to be up this year so he can give us as much as he has. We already have more than enough PG's, SG's and SF's. What we really need is a center or a PF if no good centers are available. I say use Richards as the backup plan if we can't get a center in FA (which looks like a distinct possibility).
Green plays sg. Remember last year, Neal was taken out of his comfort zone and played pg? Disaster! Derrick Byars could play sf if both Leonard and Jackson run into foul trouble. Just an insurance. He is big, can shoot and also rebounds.
@Spursfan66 @rtesoro440 Yeah, if what you say about the roster is true then I guess he'll be headed back to Europe (or Jamaica lol) to be stashed away. I just hope he is NBA VERY SOON because we need the help and after watching Ajinca today, I can safely say that he is not the key. I'll keep my fingers crossed that RC and Pop are just waiting to pull another RJ for Jackson steal!
@CraigThomas @rtesoro440 Only rub is on RR I THINK we may have to give RR our LAST roster spot just to get him to Toros. I do know if a player we hold the rights on gets to training camp but does NOT make the roster, we lose his rights. If there IS a way to get him straight to Toros withOUT committing our last roster spot to him the Im all for it! We'll see, but we have to keep in mind with all the bigs left in FA AND the ones still in vegas that may not make any teams, Spurs will keep options open for a while imo.
@rtesoro440 @Spursfan66 We don't need someone with better potential, we need someone who can help us now. Timmy D has basically said he has 3 more years left with this one being probably our best shot at winning a ring. After the Duncan era ends in 2015, it won't really matter who we have because we aren't winning a thing, barring a lopsided trade or a miraculous draft along the way. 2015 should be end of the line for any sort of alignment of the stars because it honestly will not happen with Duncan gone, Ginobili on his last legs, and an older TP. We need to do the best we can with these next few years and then blow things up in 2015 with the hopes of landing another Timmy D.
@Spursfan66 @rtesoro440 From what I've heard though, Richards is most likely going to be a D-League work in progress this year (I'm hoping for more than that but who knows). And if we are putting our hopes on Alexis Ajinca god helps us. From what I've seen of him, he is a black Keith Van Horn. I would take Darko 50 times before I would take Ajinca's anorexic French ass.
@CraigThomas @rtesoro440 At this point Craig FO has at least done SOMETHING to possibly address big man need..Bringing in R Richards and Ajinca to vegas. Other than that, NOONE outside Oog. knows what they may be trying in trade scenarios etc. Business as usual for FO. I think Blair will likely begin the season in SA, but unless he shows REAL improvement he's likely out before trade deadline. Spurs wont rush anything, will look hard at ALL teams vegas guys then address the situation I think
@rtesoro440 @CraigThomas lol You keep asking what FO is doing about this and that, but you DO realize that FO does NOT release info like this right? It makes NO sense to imo. As for the news on Blair being on block before draft and now talk between Spurs and GSW re: Blair, I GUARANTEE that info was put out by GSW ppl and teams contacted before draft about trading Blair. You will hear about ANY incoming player from the FO when deal is done pretty much..As for Darko and your "lemon" tag look at the stats, Tylers are virtually the exact same.lol So by your logic, the guy you want is a lemon too right? lol The fact is, we could possibly get Darko on minimum deal..Tyler is not a FA and theres no WAY GSW is trading him for Blair. Darko also blocks twice as many shots as Tyler, BANGS, unlike Tyler, Better rim protector, and shoots better Fg %. So once again, you aren't making any sense
@rtesoro440 That's the problem, Spurs haven't done anything to solve the big man problem so far to my knowledge. Darko is better than no one. Blair is probably going to get traded for a 1st round draft pick (which is a waste for the money we are paying him this year right now). Last I heard, Anderson wants to resign. He probably found out his trade value was shit so he figured he can possibly ride the gravy train to a championship until TD retires. I really don't care what we do with him at this point. I was hoping if they trade Blair, they could add Neal as a sweetener to get a better return. I don't see all 3 of those guys in black and silver come April. Two if not three will probably be traded.
Pretty low ceiling for point guards and shooting guards, if you ask me. Anyway, what are the Spurs doing to solve the need for another big man? Darko is a lemon.Anderson is a free agent and Blair and Neal hold unguaranteed contracts. Any plans for them?
Pretty low ceiling for point guards and shooting guards, if you ask me. Anyway, what are the Spurs doing to solve the need for another big man? Darko is a lemon.
@rtesoro440 Yeah but Green can be stretched to SF especially defensively if we need someone quicker and "hands-er" than Jackson. Unfortunately I think with the Spurs bringing De Colo over and re-signing Mills that means Neal's days are numbered. We would have TP, Mills, and De Colo at PG with Manu, Green, Anderson, and Neal at SG. That's wayyyy too much competition for limited minutes especially at SG. That means that Neal, who is really too undersized to play SG for extended periods of time, has to be gone after showing how uncomfortable he is at PG. If we keep Anderson then, that means either Anderson or Green could rotate over to 3rd string SF if need be when we are going small ball with Mills, Manu, Kawhi, and Duncan etc... Splitting the minutes between Kawhi and Jackson is the best way to do it because I would feel comfortable with either being our starting SF.
Richards' decision-making, reflected in both his play and career... and being the youngster he is with so many constant changes in his life, RR needs someone he respects implicitly to work with him on both the intricacies of the game (and his position) as well as his overall mental approach. I don't know that it's Duncan or Pop's responsibility... especially this late in their careers... but playing for the Toros, coming to Spurs games and sitting on the bench, just spending off-court time with Duncan (and The Admiral?) and being around them... could really accelerate RR's growth and maturity. I hope they do what it takes to do that. One of the negatives of these young guys being overseas is the constant chaos in their lives, and the lack of guys around them who have been where they want to go - and know how to get there. This guy has the tools to really be special.
@Ironwill71 Well said. I would even throw Kawhi into that list of role models. Talk about a kid that has done everything right!
Just hope he keeps hustling on D, that's the best way to make the Spurs unless you shoot like Neal...
Remember, this guy hasn't played much anywhere for 2 years, much less have familiarity with nba rules or spurs playbooks. he needs to be playing in the Spurs system. I agree the D elague seems to be the only option, but the FO must decide to sign him or he will be lost to us.
very raw, watched the game has great offensive abilty. looked lost at times, needs more experience at this level of play. spurs need to keep him in the d league and stop having him play eles where.p.s. kawhi looked sick out there loved it