Nick Richards Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Nick Richards is ranked 28th on ESPN’s top 100.
  • Through the first 13 games, the seven-foot center averaged 17.3 points per 40 minutes on 61.3% effective shooting and 13.7 rebounds per 40 minutes[1].
  • Despite being a true freshman, he just turned 20[2] last month.
  • Richards has posted 18.1% usage-rate over his 227 minutes. He gets the ball in the post some but isn’t a go-to option in Kentucky’s offense by any means. They have him setting ball-screens but don’t offer enough spacing for the guards to hit him rolling to the basket regularly.
    • His most reliable way to get touches tends to be what he can get for himself in the offensive glass. Almost a fifth of his live ball attempts have come on put-backs[3].
  • On the other end, the native of Kingston, Jamaica has played with better intensity than what was expected based on his reputation. He’s been an effective rim protector when well positioned, while also flashing decent agility to defend out in space.

DEFENSE

  • Richards is quite athletic for someone his size and can venture far beyond the foul line to hedge-and-recover against the pick-and-roll.
  • He hasn’t been asked to pick up smaller players on switches a whole lot but has shown foot speed tracking ball handlers attacking downhill.
  • Richards is a proactive help defender stepping up to the front of the basket as the last line of defense and looks to challenge everything he is close by. He is very effective when well positioned and can block shots in volume thanks to his quickness elevating off two feet and his nine-foot standing reach – averaging 3.3 blocks per 40 minutes this season.
    • In large part thanks to that shot blocking prowess, Richards ranks second on the team in defensive rating among rotation players[4].
    • That high activity in rim protection has come at the cost of him being prone to biting on shot fakes and making himself vulnerable to whistles, as he’s averaged 5.5 personal fouls per 40 minutes, which have limited his playing time to just 17.5 minutes per game.
  • Richards is yet to develop into a help defender who makes preventive rotations that keep the opposing ball handler from getting to the basket in the first place and despite his shot blocking prowess, he hasn’t really acted as a deterrent.
  • Given his quickness, he should be suited to guard shooting big men but has struggled to closeout to the three-point line effectively.
  • Richards is attentive to his boxout responsibilities and is a tough body to move out of his rebounding area thanks to his 245-pound frame, collecting 22% of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor this season.

OFFENSE

  • Richards hasn’t yet shown a particularly advanced post game in terms of working his man out of position patiently with head fakes, shot fakes and spin moves. He’s mostly looking to set up a simple turnaround righty hook, though he’s flashed a face-up jumper as well. His touch is iffy, though, as he’s missed 17 of his 27 shots away from the basket.
  • He is a good screener who looks to draw contact but has so-so hands catching the ball on the move and has struggled to finish a few alley-oops in traffic. Richards can elevate off two feet to play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense but hasn’t shown the same explosion going up strong in a crowd.
  • He is coordinated enough to catch and take a dribble to gather himself before going up with better balance or more power out of a standstill position. His touch from the in-between area is iffy but he’s been a very good finisher near the basket, converting his 35 such looks at an 80% clip.
  • Richards has been asked to help facilitate offense from the high post every now and again. He’s able to hit cutters on pre-arranged reads but that’s about it as of now, as he’s assisted on just 5.6% of Kentucky’s scores when he’s been on the floor.
  • Richards has flashed a catch-and-shoot jumper off the pick-and-pop, showing a reasonably fluid release for someone his size and a high arcing shot but Kentucky doesn’t run that pick-and-pop often and rarely has him spotting up on the perimeter, so it’s unclear how real of an asset his jumper could really be at this point.
    • For whatever it’s worth, he’s nailed 22 of his 30 foul shots.
  • Richards has collected 14.4% of Kentucky’s misses when he’s been on the floor, showing a knack for chasing the ball off the rim and using his seven-foot-three to rebound outside of his area.

[1] According to sports-reference

[2] DOB: 11/29/1997

[3] Based on the numbers available at hoop-math

[4] According to sports-reference

READ MORE: Marques Bolden | Wendell Carter, Jr.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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