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The unrealized impact of Josh Primo's dismissal

Despite not having a great start to the season, the waiving of the former lottery pick has left a big hole on the Spurs roster.

By: Lucas Oliva I Nov. 7, 2022, 12:00 pm EST

Josh Richardson leads the huddle for the Spurs bench squad. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

With Josh Primo being waived just over a week ago, the Spurs have found themselves in a much deeper problem than just losing a player that oozed with potential. Originally, the plan for the Spurs was to incorporate 25th overall pick of the 2022 draft in Blake Wesley into the bench lineup. However, in just his second game off the bench, Wesley would tear his MCL, sidelining him for the next 6-8 weeks of the season. This has left 29-year-old veteran Josh Richardson to lead the bench as the backup PG.

While Richardson has proved to be a valuable 3 and D during his short tenure with the Spurs, it's very clear that the point guard spot is not where Richardson’s skillset is at its most effective.

Josh Richardson pre-Josh Primo dismissal and Blake Wesley injury:

11.7 PPG, 3.7 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.3 TO, 42.2% FG - (6 games played)

Josh Richarson post-Josh Primo dismissal and Blake Wesley injury:

7.7 PPG, 3.0 APG, 1.0 RPG, 0.0 SPG, 2.3 TO, 25.4% FG - (3 games played)

As indicated by the stats, Richardson has taken a notable step back in production when tasked with being the primary ball-handler for the Spurs. Undoubtedly, he has some offensive initiation skills when placed as the secondary ball-handler/creator as shown in his 3.7 assists per game before Primo was waived. However, when given the role as primary PG, it just doesn’t look good for the offensive flow for the Spurs. More notably, it stops Richardson from getting to his spots, and severely limits the off-ball movement that he was providing for the Spurs. In the last three games, he’s rarely gotten to the spots that he strives in, such as the corners and wings, as we’ve seen him settle for mid-range jumpers that haven’t led to efficient offense.

Subsequently, the bigger issue at hand here is that if this sort of lackluster performance persists, the trade value that Richardson has been building for the Spurs will inevitably tank. Richardson, who will be in the free agent class of 2023 could very well leave the team for a contender, as he isn’t getting any younger and the Spurs are in the midst of a rebuild year. It would suit both sides best if he was dealt at the deadline, especially because Richardson sits at a rather team friendly one-year, $12.2 million dollar deal. The Spurs would hope to net a first-round pick for Richardson, adding to their stockpile of draft picks over the next 5 years.

These issues only highlight the glaring lack of depth at the PG spot now with Primo gone. The Spurs re-signed undrafted rookie Jordan Hall, in hopes of him being able to provide spot minutes at the guard to help alleviate the loss of Primo to no avail. Hall has looked lost for the most part, and hasn’t provided anything offensively either. Obviously it’s unfair to expect such big things from an undrafted player, but he doesn’t look interested in fighting for his non-guaranteed contract spot, making him a likely candidate to waive once a better choice becomes available.

On the bright side, Blake Wesley is set to return sometime 2 months from now, and with the trade deadline coming in February, the Spurs are hoping for Richardson to once more reach his pre-Primo dismissal production once Wesley returns. Barring no setbacks in rehab for the rookie, the Spurs can still very possibly net the desired first-round pick if everything goes well.

Not only that, but due to the pileup of these unfortunate circumstances for the Spurs, Malaki Branham has received increased opportunities to showcase his skillset, even netting the starting spot for the time being. As mentioned in my recent recaps, he looks solid on both ends of the floor. He’s shown awareness on defense and an ability to get good looks on offense, which are great skills to have in your rookie year. Now all Branham needs to do is get the confidence to continue shooting, as those shots will eventually begin to fall for him.

The Spurs look to bounce back tonight from a 3-game losing streak. They face the Nuggets once more on a crowded night of NBA action!


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