Malachi Richardson, The New Experiment

The Raptors jettisoned Bruno to Sacramento and began a new development experiment with Malachi Richardson.

The trade deadline came and went with little fanfare in Toronto, much as it was expected.  The starters are rolling, the bench is a juggernaut, they already have an 11 man rotation, and everything is smiles in Toronto.  What would be the point when significant upgrades can’t even be found on the trade market?

Even the briefly rumored DeAndre Jordan talks would have led to a downgrade from Jonas Valanciunas’ current level of play (be honest, we are all part of The Hive now).

But the Raptors didn’t sit out entirely in the trade market.  Lo and behold, Bruno Caboclo is now gone from Toronto.  While many would celebrate this fact alone (you monsters!), even the most of Bruno opposition must miss a piece of this story.

An unknown kid selected 20th overall in the NBA draft, with freakish measurements and a decent looking jumpshot, and almost no experience or feel of a basketball game.  He was the ultimate experiment, and one that is over.

At least we will always have his NBA debut where he torched Milwaukee:

In hindsight, what Bruno did to Milwaukee is one of the more disrespectful things the Raptors have ever done to an opponent.  He scored 8 points while playing the entire fourth quarter, dunked an alley-oop from half-court, and hit 2-of-3 from deep.  It was magical.

Since then he has scored a total of 19 points across 3+ seasons.  Outside of helping the Raptors905 bring a championship to Toronto, there is nothing to write home about.

This trade wasn’t so much about acquiring a specific player by trade, but rather to open up additional room under the tax to pursue potential buy-out options.  It was a move to help set-up another move.  Malachi Richardson in a sense is just a throw-in.

So what do they have in Richardson?

For starters, Richardson played almost 5 minutes to end yesterday’s destruction of the Charlotte Hornets.  That 5 minutes is already 71 percent of the minutes Bruno has played this season for the Raptors.  He has outscored Bruno 2 to 0 in a Raptors’ jersey this season, and his one rebound.  Both have contributed the same amount this season to Toronto.

His time with Sacramento has been hit and miss.  Before injuring his hamstring last year in a game against the Warriors, Head Coach Dave Joerger had already openly said that Malachi was earning more minutes and may deserve a look as a starter.

Nothing about his stats jump out dramatically other than perhaps his high volume of three point attempts.  43 percent of his NBA attempts have been from long distance

He has a career PER of 7.3, and career NET Rating of -18.  Despite all of this though, I’m intrigued and mildly excited for this new experiment.

While Bruno’s contract was about to come to an end this summer, Richardson still has two years of team control and can then be extended a qualifying offer (if desired) to make him a restricted free agent.

I also will happily bet on a well thought of prospect that wasn’t developed well in Sacramento.  The Kings just have a delightful way of making players worse than they actually are.  Could Malachi be developed into something productive in a new/healthy environment that has shown great success with young players?  Would having a player like DeMar to watch and emulate help?  What could heavy minutes with the Raptors905 and Jerry Stackhouse do for him?

All of these questions remain unanswered, and perhaps it doesn’t become anything.  The Raptors905 were created for this reason, to give players like Bruno and Malachi a leash to experiment with in a winning culture.

Although Bruno has far more G-League experience than Malachi, it’s likely the most comparable basketball experience that we can look to.  Here are their career G-League statistics:

Oddly similar across the board.  Bruno does crush Malachi in categories like Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating, but the Raptors905 have been one of the best teams in the league which would certainly impact this.

He is the next experiment.  One with more basketball experience than Bruno and shorter arms.  Malachi will get an extensive look with the 905 (was assigned earlier this morning, which means a 905 debut tonight against the Maine Red Claws) and an opportunity to develop his game further.  Acquiring Malachi is a bet on a draft pedigree that was left unfulfilled in Sacramento, and one that I’m excited to watch.

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