Originally written July 23, 2013 on Project Spurs:
Ryan Richards is the pure definition of potential. If any other NBA team had their hands on him they would be salivating at the thought of what he could bring this season. Most teams would have him on their roster just because well, that’s what other teams do. They make their decisions based on potential. We all know the San Antonio Spurs take their time when it comes to prospects. While other teams like to throw their guys in the fire and blame the player when he doesn’t pan out, the Spurs cautiously assess the pros and cons of what that player can bring to the roster and then develop him accordingly.   Drafted in 2010 by the Spurs, and currently only 22 years old, Richards has shown improvement from year to year. Coming into this year’s Summer League, many assumed Richards would play a larger role on the team.   He ended up only averaging 7.8 minutes per game over the 4 games in which he appeared. His only extended run was in the finale against Milwaukee where he finished with 18 points on 8-11 shooting from the field. Let’s break down what we saw.   Defensively Richards is still horrible in his post defense. He can easily be beat with spin moves either way and gets backed down too easily. He tries to compensate with energy and effort which is always a good sign for a player who is lacking in a certain area.    Offensively his game is far from polished, but the fluidity of his moves and skill set help create the buzz over his potential. Richards at 6’11” has the ability to shoot the three out of the pick and pop or by spotting up. In the post he likes to back down and get to his natural lefty hook inside. Richards also has the ability to shoot the turn-around jump shot out of the post which shows he’s comfortable with his shooting touch.    Spurs fans like to become impatient like any other fans, but Richards is still a work in progress. I believe his best possibility at this moment would be to develop in Austin, with their D-League affiliate the Toros. That won’t happen though because they would have to sign him in order to retain his rights and this season is clearly not one where the Spurs are just giving away roster spots to prospects.    Still it seems as though all Richards needs is the proper coaching and development in order to see what kind of player he can become. At some point the Spurs will bring him in under their coaching full time, but until then Richards must continue to work on his game overseas. It might be a few years Spurs fans so don’t hold your breath.
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