In the first 18 days of December, Malachi Richardson played a total of 5 minutes and 31 seconds for the Sacramento Kings. Those minutes came in the Kings December 14th thrashing at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s been over a month since Malachi played over 10 minutes in a game. And yet, when the Kings found themselves short handed due to a few injuries, Malachi stepped up and gave the Kings 19 solid minutes of play on Tuesday.
Richardson’s stat line doesn’t exactly jump off the page at first glance. Three points on 1-4 shooting, 0-1 from beyond the arc. Four rebounds, one assist, zero steals. But what the stat line does show is that Malachi Richardson finished the game with a team-high +/- of +17. He was put on Rookie Of The Year favorite Ben Simmons, and he handled him well.
Malachi entered the league as a gunner. We saw last season how explosive a scorer he can be. But he wasn’t known for his defense. Malachi spent his offseason adding strength, and that’s translated to being a much improved defender.
Richardson still has an uphill battle for minutes unless injuries or a trade changes the roster, but he gave Dave Joerger reason to consider mixing him back into the rotation on a more regular basis.