Erik Spoelstra pushes Josh Richardson for NBA All-Defensive
From Ira Winderman
The Miami Heat make it a point to note how they don’t promote their players for post-season awards. They prefer to allow the merits to do the talking.
But coach Erik Spoelstra has made an exception this season, to at least draw further inspection to the qualifications of swingman Josh Richardson for one of the two NBA All-Defensive teams.
“Well that’s been his calling card since he came in. That’s what our scouting department and Chet Kammerer liked about him,” Spoelstra said of the Heat’s scouting work in advance of selecting Richardson out of Tennessee in the second round in 2015. “I think they projected him to be able to have this kind of potential. And on that side of the floor, I think he’s All-NBA defense. He is, night in and night out.”
The opportunity could be there for Richardson or at least a newcomer or two to the media-selected units. San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, first-team selections last season, both have missed extensive time this season, with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Andre Robertson, a 2017 second-team selection sidelined, and 2018 second-team selection Tony Allen now out of the NBA.
The Heat’s most recent All-Defensive selection was center Hassan Whiteside, who made the second team in 2016.
Spoelstra said Richardson fills all the boxes required to merit selection.
“He’s become a very disciplined, dynamic defender, one that can really take on multiple positions. But in a totally different way,” Spoelstra said. “He will challenge Dwyane [Wade] in terms of a shot-blocking two-guard if he is fortunate enough to play that many years down the line.
“He’s going to rack up a lot of blocks, a lot of steals. And, as we call ‘em, ‘one-on-one kills.’ He’s a superb defender and his offense has been growing exponentially with the opportunities this year.”
So, no, not lobbying, just supporting.
“I think unquestionably he’s an All-NBA defender,” Spoelstra said. “I think it’s a shame. I don’t think his name is out there. I don’t think people even recognize the kind of defender that he is, except for the teams he plays against. I think they see it.”