With much talk regarding whether Josh Richardson can compete for a starting role for the Miami Heat this season, the Edmond, Oklahoma, native isn’t buying much into that.
After signing a four-year, $42 million contract extension with the Heat last month, Richardson said he doesn’t mind what role he plays with Miami this season as long as he’s able to contribute.
“I know I’m still going to play plenty of minutes, so Spo is going to put the best guys out there,” Richardson said. “Whoever starts, we just need those guys to get us off to a good start, but it really comes down to who finishes it and who’s out there when the game ends.”
The 24-year-old guard has contributed heavily off the bench for the Heat this preseason, scoring 6 points during Thursday’s loss on the road to the Brooklyn Nets and 12 points last Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks.
Richard see’s himself as an organizer, which has been his focus recently.
“I put a lot of focus in getting the guys organized, getting in their sets. I’m not a guy that has to get a lot of shots every night,” he said. “If I’m rolling, I’m going to put them up, but the unit I play with a lot involves Tyler Johnson in there… Wayne Ellington and Justice Winslow, I like to get them guys going first. I’m not really worried about myself.”
And it’s that quality that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra thinks makes Richardson not only a good teammate but highlights the progress the player has made since last season.
“He’s an all-purpose utility player. He could do a lot of different things. He is the definition of positionist. He can start and come off the bench, he can work positions and he’s really improving,” said Spoelstra. “What he did at the end of last season is what we expected, really from the beginning of last season… where he is right now I think he’s already ahead of where he was last season.”
SPOELSTRA PRAISES SPIRIT
Thursday night’s 107-88 loss to the Nets at the Barclays Center didn’t go too well for the Heat players.
Yet despite the Heat’s loss that night, Spoelstra admitted he enjoyed seeing his players looking down following that game, saying it’s a unique quality that highlights the team’s competitive spirit — even during preseason.
“That’s what I love about this group,” said Spoelstra after Friday’s training session. “Guys coming over here on an early bus, getting early work in before our fun session in practice, and that shows you the competitive spirit about this group. They want to play well for each other, want to compete in a high level.
“This league is tough, and they don’t see these games as preseason games. Our guys want to compete and win these games. We didn’t play well [that night], and it bothered the guys. I love that quality.”
For Richardson, that’s been an x-factor for the Heat this preseason, saying now is the time to for each player to focus on improving their qualities that will eventually benefit the squad before the season begins later this month.
“It’s been big. For the guys and even myself, I’ve been trying to focus more on playmaking like I did last year. My first year I was just a spot-on guy, shoot threes and catch-and-go, but last year I tried to get more into a leadership role, so I think that’s going to be my biggest thing this year.”
HAMMONS STILL OUT
AJ Hammons, who is suffering from flu-like symptoms, did not travel with the Heat for their game against the Magic, Spoelstra told reporters on Friday.