Following the Miami Heat‘s disappointing end to the 2017-18 season, the focus shifted to possible individual accolades. Heat forward Josh Richardson seemed to be a strong candidate for a spot on the league’s All-Defensive squad, but that hope was squashed when the teams were announced on Wednesday.
Richardson clearly expressed his disappointment of the voting through social media, albeit with no words:
— Josuélito (@J_Rich1) May 23, 2018
Unable to earn a spot among the top 10 in this category, Richardson ended up 16th in the voting and picked up three first-team votes. No other Heat player was represented on the list.
During the course of the past season, Richardson was asked about the possibility of garnering a spot among this prestigious group.
“I think it would be awesome, but I’m not going to be bent out of shape if I don’t,” Richardson said. “I know how those things go sometimes. I’m not too worried about it. I think I’m a top 10 defender in this league. I know in my own head.”
Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra had effectively served as Richardson’s campaign manager in an effort to try to get him a berth on the team. Spoelstra pointed out in the latter stages of the campaign why he believed Richardson deserved the recognition:
“He’s All-NBA defense,” Spoelstra said. “Night in, night out he’s going to have three of the toughest covers in the game. … and he doesn’t even blink. And that’s the expectation and how he’s developed that potential. He’s become a very disciplined, dynamic defender, one that can really guard multiple positions in a totally different way.
“I think it’s a shame, I don’t think his name out there. I don’t think people recognize the kind of defender he is except for the teams that he plays against. I think they see it.”
Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post offered some statistical numbers to make Richardson’s case, which ultimately came up short.
“Among the 139 NBA players who played in at least 40 games and defended at least nine shots per game this past regular season, Richardson finished with the seventh-best opponent field-goal percentage at 41.6 percent behind only Jaylen Brown and (Al) Horford from Boston, (Anthony) Davis from New Orleans, (Joel) Embiid and Ben Simmons from Philadelphia, and John Wall from Washington,” Chiang wrote. “Three of those players made an All-Defensive team — Horford, Davis and Embiid.
“Richardson also tallied a team-high 2.6 deflections per game this past regular season, and recorded a team-high 121 steals while also blocking 75 shots (second-most on the team). He was the only player in the NBA to finish with at least that many steals and blocks.”
Had Richardson been named to the team, he would have been the seventh player in team history to earn a spot on the squad, with LeBron James and Alonzo Mourning having previously been tabbed to spots on the first team. Two years ago, center Hassan Whiteside was the last Miami player to be named to this group.