Wednesday, April 06, 2005

J-Rich Getting a Little Poorer

It’s easy to stop paying attention to the NBA in its last few weeks. There’s obviously March Madness and the beginning of baseball season to deal with. And even if your team is still in the hunt for a championship, there’s not much to do besides trolling the free agent list for temporary pick ups. All the big names are staying put, so you’re more likely to be keeping track of the Speedy Claxtons and Andres Nocionis of the world than the big stars.

So maybe not everyone is noticing what’s going on in Golden State. I obviously have, as they’re basically the only team I talk about anymore. What’s happening is that Baron Davis is putting up some absolutely insane numbers over the past couple weeks and the Warriors have won 6 in a row and 9 of their last 10. I’ve talked previously about some of their young foreigners and the promise they’ve shown (Michael Pietrus, Andris Biedrins, Zarko Cabarkapa), but the two true studs of this team are Davis and Jason Richardson. But just how much of a stud is Jason Richardson now that he’s got a new backcourt mate who functions best with the ball in his hands?

It looked like J-Rich was on the verge of becoming a true top flight player in the League. In 17 games in January and February (he was fighting through some injuries), he put up 26.4/6.3/4.6 with 2.1 3s and steals per game in 40.3 minutes on 46% shooting on 22.4 attempts per game. Those are borderline first-round fantasy numbers. But things haven’t been the same since Baron came along, and especially since he joined the starting lineup 11 games ago. Richardson missed one game due to personal reasons, but in the other 10 where he has started alongside Davis his numbers stand at 19.7/6.2/4.5 with 1.3 3s and 1 steal per game in 39.6 minutes on 45% shooting on 17.5 attempts per game.

The rebound, assist and FG% numbers are the same, but he’s taking big hits everywhere else. Getting those 3s and steals cut in half is a big deal, but it could just be the result of a small sample size. But those five missing shots per game are the big thing to look at. It’s also worth noting that his playing time is roughly the same, so his declining numbers can’t be blamed on seeing more time on the bench. No, this looks like a trend and is probably a pretty good buzzkill for those that have Richardson in keeper leagues. As it stands now, J-Rich comes in at #25 on the average PR and should probably be looked at as a top-30 player heading into next year. As for Baron Davis … we’ll talk about him more in the offseason.

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