Taking Out the Trash Volume 2
In this week’s installment of Taking Out the Trash, Garbage Time Ghim dives into the enigmatic Oregon Senior, Will Richardson and bites back at some of the freezing cold takes coming out of Foxboro.
My teammates haven't asked me to leave yet, so here I am with Volume 2.
If you got fooled into reading my nonsense again, you need to wake the hell up and remember the wise words of Michael Gary Scott. "Fool me once, strike one. But fool me twice... strike three."
In all seriousness, you should be really excited to read what I have to say. At this point, you guys should be counting down the days till I drop another column like Tom Wambsgans counts the days till he can take advantage of Shiv's "Sexy Window." Tom is such a damn good character.
In this week's column, we're getting lost in the sauce again and talking about random things tumbling through my brain. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I'm sure you've had enough of the cookie-cutter early reactions to the College basketball season. Buckle up, get rid of any imaginary cats that may be hiding under your chair, and make sure you're fully engaged. None of that mindless swiping/scrolling up the page because you felt like you had to. Get that UTI handled and get your head back in the game, Logan.
Let's get down to the nitty-gritty. I'm going to talk a ton about Will Richardson this week. I think he might be really damn good at basketball, and I want to talk about it with you guys. There's also a ton about his game that I hate. However, like I always say to my boss, "as long as we're a net positive, all is good."
Will Richardson, Star Second Baseman?
Growing up, I used to be so jealous of lefties. Every damn lefty I ever played with was just born with the ability to shoot. I don't know if it's because they use a different part of their brain, but every lefty I've ever played with was an absolute sniper. Will Richardson is who I wanted to be for most of my life. He's a 6'5", lefty playmaker that shoots the shiz out of the ball and, AT TIMES, does weird things on the floor that make me tap into some Enes Kanter energy.
The more I watch Richardson, the more I think teams, scouts, and people like me might end up overthinking things with him as we get closer and closer to the draft. The guy has some big holes in his game that we'll get to later, but I do believe there is an NBA player in this dude. The macro image of Will Richardson's game will trump some of the micro issues that show up on tape.
The main reason I think people will be harsh on him is the demeanor he approaches the game with. Richardson does not ever play with Draymond Green or Franz Wagner two-hand dunking it on the Knicks in MSG energy. He plays like he created the game of basketball, and everyone else on the floor is fighting to catch up to his mastery of the game. If you're not paying attention, it might look like he's not trying and playing with a "too cool for school" energy. But the truth of the matter is, he's just super cool, and when things are going well, really good at what he does well.
He reminds me so much of mid to late 2000's Robinson Cano. If you don't know who that is, Cano was the second baseman for the World Champion New York Yankees in 2009. For most of Cano's career, experts always wondered about his passion for the game, whether he was focused or not. Before winning the title in 2009, Cano received a ton of flack for being too nonchalant and simply going through the motions on the field, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Although he looked like he wasn't trying, it wasn't a matter of effort; he was trying really hard. The issue was that he looked too cool while doing it and never felt like he had to play at an accelerated pace or do more than what he deemed necessary.
If you were to go back and look at his numbers when he was on the Yankees, before he decided to start juicing, he was an absolute beast. The dude had one of the prettiest swings you'll ever see and made second base look as cool as a Game Boy Color back in 1998. Just look at the video below. He was an unbelievable second baseman who got a lot of crap for being too smooth, too cool; meanwhile, he consistently made plays that made absolutely no sense. Even when throwing across his body, the power and accuracy that he could throw with were unreal. Was he occasionally prone to errors? Absolutely. Did he slow walk it down to first-base from time to time when he'd ground the ball to second? No Question. In his first couple of seasons, scouts and people covering the team had significant questions about his focus and, at times, lackadaisical play. (Had to throw that word in there for the legendary Walt Clyde Frazier.) He had his warts, but the overall product of Robinson Cano was an 8X All-Star, 2X Gold Glove winner, All-Star game MVP, and a World Champion.
I don't know if Will Richardson will ever reach the heights of a Robinson Cano, but the dude plays with similar energy. There are times when you watch him on the floor, and it looks like he's floating or not entirely engaged. Initially, that's what I saw as well. There would be times when I'd isolate a possession where he'd bring the ball up, hand it off to another guard, and float to the corner. In those moments, I thought he was preserving energy or not locked in because the ball wasn't in his hands. But the more I watched, the more I loved him.
Before I get to the ugly, I want to focus on the good. Last week against BYU, when they got utterly thumped, I was excited to go back and watch that game. I wanted to see what Richardson was doing offensively and what he could do to improve upon a nightmare outing for him and the team. It took him a while to get into the game, but I remember early on, one of BYU's bigs was switched on to Richardson off of a screen playing drop coverage, and Richardson immediately went to work. He knew right away that the plan for BYU that night was to shade him to his right hand, so before the big could even get his feet set, Richardson switched his dribble to his right hand and attacked the big with a nice little in and out dribble and took it to the cup. Although he got blocked, I was so damn impressed with that possession. The anticipation to know what the defense was looking to do and the wherewithal to switch to his right hand before the big could even get set was just magic to watch. I also loved that he had his head up and was manipulating not just his defender but the defense as a whole by not just putting his head down and attacking the rim. Due to him having his head up and threatening the defense with his eyes, he got a clear path to the rim and kept the defense on their toes.
I like watching this guy shoot. I have to say, he's not a perfect shooter, but he's an entertaining shooter. His shot looks a little funky; it's a strange motion, but when his load up is clean and he gets his feet set, it looks pretty damn good. When he attacks the rim he’s shown some nice touch around the rim with floaters and flip shots. I just wish he’d get to the basket more often.
Even as a passer, he's been a fascinating watch. He's on an Oregon team that isn't loaded with shooters, and you can feel that when you watch them play. But some of the pick-and-pop, pick-and-roll stuff he was running was pretty. The threat of his shot helps him in that area, and he does an excellent job of finding the right guys. The spacing is tight, and there's not much room for Richardson to operate freely. But even in close quarters, Richardson shows a knack for finding his teammates with savvy, high-IQ reads. Although I don't know if he's doing enough of that at this point. (Big Caveat)
If I'm brutally honest, I know there are some real warts to his game. The kid is not a freak athlete. I'm not even sure if he's a decent athlete. He's also pretty weak and needs to add a little mass if he's going to make up for the lack of burst. I'd like to see him be a bit more assertive on offense as well; I hate when he's twiddling his thumbs in the corner. There were a couple of possessions where I saw him go to the corner and then re-locate as the guy with the ball was manipulating things on the other side of the court. It was nice to see him move to the right spots on the floor and set himself to be successful off the catch, but we need MORE!
I'd like to see him get downhill a little bit more if possible, take advantage of some good screens and get cooking while he has a defender on his heels. I don't know if it's simply a personality thing or a scheme thing behind his passiveness, but that has to improve if he's looking to get drafted in the late first or early second round. It takes him way too long to get involved in games, and when it takes him that long, sometimes it's already too late.
He can also be pretty loose with his handle, make sloppy decisions, and play too slow. It almost feels like he has to play at the pace he's comfortable with, or everything just goes down the drain. When Richardson is playing at his pace, things can look beautiful. When he gets sped up or pressured, things don't look as good. When he gets lost in the corner and doesn't get out of there, things look worse. This is pretty much why evaluating these guys can be so painful because it's hard for me to tell if he's ever going to get past these things. The Yankees didn't know for sure if Robinson Cano was going to be the answer at second base after the failure of Tony Womack. That decision worked out big time for the Yankees. Will Will Richardson also pan out that well? I'm not sure, but I think there's enough there for me to believe in him.
I started this column before the start of the Maui Invitational, and it looks like Will Richardson is struggling in the ways I talked about above. He's WILDLY passive and pretty much a ghost in these games. There seems to be a massive disconnect between him and the team at large right now. With that being said, I don't want to overreact to the beginning of the season. I will continue to hold out hope that he and the team figure things out as the season progresses because the Ducks are leaning on Richardson to play at the heights they expected him to reach in his senior season.
Thanksgiving food is not that complicated, all of it is awesome.
I saw a couple of the New England Patriots caused a storm on social media with their hot takes on thanksgiving food. I saw Matthew Judson decided to take a steaming hot crap on Mac and cheese, and the golden child Mac Jones decided to cancel pies. First off, screw the Patriots. I hope Mac Jones stuffs his face with some sugar-free Haribos gummy bears this weekend. Good luck making it to Sunday, you loser. Second, anyone who doesn't like pie needs to be canceled because pies are perfect. Are some flavors and types of pies better than others? Of course; human beings are allowed to have preferences. But to not like pie? Would you let your child date a guy who doesn't like pie? What a sick, sick man this Mac Jones guy is. Good luck winning titles with that guy, Patriots nation; it looks like your luck might have run out.
Matthew Judon hating on Mac and Cheese? The hell is that? Mac and cheese, when done correctly, is the food of gods. Why hate on such a simple, beautiful dish that puts smiles on the faces of millions around the country. Thanksgiving food is perfect, and if you feel otherwise, don't talk to me.
I'm going to come out and say it right now: the Patriots may have jinxed their whole season. The hottest team in the AFC may have just totally derailed their season, and that'll be the perfect Christmas gift for me this year. Screw the Patriots, go Jets.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and if you made it this far, I love you. Please eat all the pie possible topped with delicious Mac and Cheese. This is the way.
See you guys next week with my thoughts on all the unspeakable things Tyler Rucker did to me in Vegas. Kidding. (?)