When Malachi Richardson was drafted, the shooting guards for the Sacramento Kings were Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple, and Ben McLemore. There was a foreseeable path where Malachi could be the shooting guard of the future. Afflalo was an aging vet, as was Temple to a lesset extent. McLemore had yet to prove he had a future with the team. He played sparingly until January 20th, 2017. But then Malachi saw his minutes come with more consistency, and Kings fans saw his point totals do the same. But on February 15th, with a minute left in a contest in which Malachi had played a season-high 27 minutes, he crumpled to the floor. Richardson had suffered a hamstring tear that would keep him out the remainder of the year. It was the last game before the All Star break, a break that would have dramatic ramifications for Richardson’s place in Sacramento.
At the break, during the All Star game no less, the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins for a package centered around Buddy Hield. Not just another shooting guard, but the 6th pick in a draft where Malachi was taken 22nd. Just like that, it seemed Malachi had been replaced as the shooting guard of the future.
The Kings enter the season with not just Buddy and Mal and Temple, but with European phenom Bogdan Bogdanovic joining the fold as well. Veteran acquisitions Vince Carter and George Hill are capable as shooting guards as well. To say the Kings are deep at the two spot is an understatement. So where does that leave Malachi?
He could conceivably earn a spot in the rotation as a shooting guard, but that’s an uphill battle with no momentum. It may prove easier, though challenging in its own right, for Malachi to shift his gaze to the hole at small forward. Carter will play small forward, as will rookie Justin Jackson, but the Kings lack any other natural threes.
Malachi was listed as 6’6", 205 lbs. last season. We know he added some weight this summer. We also know that at the predraft combine Malachi registered a 7’ wingspan and an 8’5" standing reach. Malachi may not have the ideal height for the small forward position, but he’s long. In the modern, small ball NBA, he might be a great fit at the 3.
If Malachi gets the chance, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t, we’ll be watching to see how Richardson plays at Small Forward. If he can’t play the 3, there’s a much harder question regarding Malachi’s future with the team.