Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was quoted saying that he believes Richardson has yet to truly reach his full potential.
“We felt it was the natural evolution in [Richardson’s] fourth year. He put in a terrific summer of work. He really dedicated himself to player development, and to building up his body in order to have a bigger workload on both ends of the court,” Spoelstra said before Miami’s victory over the Mavericks on Feb. 13. “He’s capable of being a dominant two-way force.”
These are incredible words of praise from a coach who is known to keep his emotions and beliefs quite close to the chest, though it doesn’t take much analysis to see Richardson’s impressive potential.
In his first year in the NBA, Richardson averaged just 6.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. In his third year in the league, last season, he had nearly doubled his production with 12.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game.
This season, Richardson has taken a massive leap and is currently averaging 17.4 points, 4.0 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game.
If the Heat are able to advance to the playoffs this season, it will be fascinating to see how Richardson deals with that added responsibility and pressure. Whatever happens in that regard, however, it seems clear that he is potentially on the verge of breaking out.
While Richardson may not be the household name that other stars around the league are, he’s becoming a perfect representation of what it means to be a leader in Miami.
It will be fascinating to see how Spoelstra helps Richardson reach his full potential of the dominant player he is capable of becoming.