Draft Night 2007.
The Bobcats made a bold move, acquiring Jason Richardson and the rights to Jermareo Davidson from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Charlotte’s eighth pick in the draft, Brandan Wright.
“We wanted a veteran player to play next to (Gerald) Wallace that we felt could be a go-to player, create his own shot and create shots for other people,” explained Bobcats Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan as he talked about the trade.
The 6-6 Richardson seemed to fit the bill perfectly. The two-time Slam Dunk Champion was known for his ability to score points in bunches, averaging 18.3 points over six seasons in Golden State.
It was this type of production the Bobcats were hoping for when Richardson took to the court in orange and blue.
He didn’t disappoint, racking up 21 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter to help lead Charlotte to a 102-99 win over the Bucks on opening night.
Richardson quickly became an integral part of the Bobcats rotation, but his incorporation into the team didn’t come without a few growing pains.
After spending the first six years of his NBA career with the same franchise, coming to Charlotte was a bit of an adjustment for Richardson. He had to develop camaraderie with a new set of teammates and learn the nuances of their game while they had to do the same for him.
Six weeks into the season, it seemed like a light turned on and everything began to click. Richardson erupted for his first 30-point performance of the season. That began a streak of seven games in which he posted 25 or more points
On January 9, Richardson led Charlotte to one of their biggest wins of the season, tallying 34 points, nine rebounds and three assists as the Bobcats went into Boston and knocked off the Celtics, the best team in the league.
“Jason (Richardson) is a heck of a player,” remarked Paul Pierce following the Bobcats win over the Celtics. “He’s grown every year he’s been in the league. He’s been on kind of a roll tonight, I thought he hit some tough shots, and I thought there were some shots that I covered, but he made them. I know what it feels like to be in that kind of groove…I take my hat off to him tonight.”
As the season continued to progress, Richardson began to get more and more comfortable and as a result his production continued to increase.
In a game against Memphis on January 19, Richardson showcased his entire arsenal to Bobcats fans with 38 points, a career-high-tying 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in a 105-87 win over the Grizzlies.
That 38-point performance came in the midst of a 36-game stretch from December 12 to February 23 where he posted double-figures in every game.
Richardson’s importance to the Bobcats’ success was emphasized even more when Charlotte lost Gerald Wallace due to a concussion in late February.
With Gerald (Wallace) going down, I have to pick up some offensive slack because that’s 20 points (per game) that we’re missing,” he explained.
Pick up his game he did, averaging 26.4 points during the eight games of Wallace’s absence. During that stretch, he led the Bobcats on a franchise-high five–game winning streak in which he averaged 29.8 points on 48.6 percent shooting and 6.6 rebounds.
The highlight for Richardson during the streak came on March 5 when his former team, Golden State, came to town. Richardson erupted, tying a franchise record with 42 points. His points came in a myriad of ways as he went 15-of-32 from the field and 5-of-12 from three-point range. He also added seven rebounds and three assists in the 118-109 victory.
“This wasn’t a revenge game and this wasn’t anything personal,” he said following the game. “It was just a game that we wanted to win.”
The Golden State game helped propel Richardson to Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors for the week ending March 9. It would be the first of two Player of the Week awards he would garnish this season. The second came for the week ending March 30 when he averaged 26.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals and helped Charlotte post a franchise-best three-game road winning streak with victories over the Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle Sonics and Portland TrailBlazers.
As the 2007-08 season drew to a close, Richardson’s play didn’t tail off. Instead it just seemed to get better. In the final five games he averaged 29.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.4 steals to help Charlotte win three of their final five contests.
It went pretty well,” he said as he talked about his first season in Charlotte. “It would have been nice to make it to the playoffs, but it was a good first (season). We learned a lot and we got a lot of the chemistry down, so next year we’re expecting to make the playoffs.”
Jason Richardson lived up to the hype. He was everything the Bobcats hoped he would be when they traded for him on draft night. He became a go-to player for this team and a scoring force the Bobcats needed.
He only got better as the season went along, raising his game when the team needed him to. After averaging a solid 16.5 points through the first 24 games, Richardson upped the ante, posting a 24-point average over the final 58 games.
He finished the year as the Bobcats leading scorer averaging 21.8 points to become the first Bobcats player to average more than 20 points per game in a season.
Known primarily as a slasher when he came to Charlotte, he proved his game was so much more.
Now not only can he explode to the rim for impressive 360-degree dunks like the one had on April 12 in Indiana against the Pacers, but he can extend defenses with his deadly outside shooting.
His accurate aim from the outside helped him claim many of the Bobcats franchise records. Not only did he set a single-game franchise record with seven three-pointers on January 26 against Philadelphia, he also recorded a franchise-best 33 consecutive games with at least one three-pointer from November 11 – January 18.
These two feats helped propel him to the top of the league standings with 243 three-pointers in a season. That mark smashed the Bobcats previous franchise high of 115. It also ranks him among the league’s best all-time. Only three other players have hit more three-pointers in a single season – Ray Allen (269 – 2005-06), Dennis Scott (267 – 1995-96) and George McCloud (257 – 1995-96).
With the type of season Jason Richardson had, there is very little too be critical of. One area in which Richardson struggled initially was shooting from the free throw line. Through December 21, Richardson was shooting just 58.3 percent from the charity stripe. A few words though with Managing Member of Basketball Operations, Michael Jordan seemed to get Richardson back on track in that category.
“I knew it wasn’t where it was supposed to normally be at,” Richardson said. “He told me to just go out there and shoot with confidence. He shot some free throws with me and Gerald and I think from that day on me and him shot better the rest of the season.”
Richardson did improve from the free throw line. Starting with the December 22 game through the end of the season, Richardson shot 79 percent from the foul line.
If you had Richardson on your fantasy roster during the season you reaped the rewards. In addition to his 21.8 point scoring average, he also averaged 5.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals.
But it wasn’t just the numbers that made fantasy owners happy, it was the way in which he did it. Night in and night out he performed on a consistent basis. He played all 82 games, posting double-figures in 75 of them. He also posted 50 games with 20-plus points and 16 games with 30-plus points.
Richardson’s importance to the Bobcats success is emphasized by this stat line.
In Bobcats wins, he averaged the following:
Points FG% 3FG% REB AST
24.1 46.7 42.8 6.4 3.3
Points FG% 3FG% REB AST
20.4 42.5 39.2 4.7 3.0
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