Trade target that could help Utah Jazz perimeter defense

With the NBA Trade Deadline in less than a week, a mountain of pressure faces Utah Jazz. As built, this team doesn’t have the tools to make a run for a Larry O’Brian trophy. Their issues with perimeter defense, depth and big backup play proved too crippling for their success. With their most valuable business asset, Joe Ingles, now on the sidelines with a torn ACL, finding ways to fix these issues has become even more difficult.

Although the Utah Jazz have few assets to move around, one attainable target who could help solve their problems on the perimeter is Josh Richardson. In his seventh season, Richardson averaged 10.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Like most players in this price range, Richardson isn’t perfect; he’s a poor rebounder, mediocre playmaker and inconsistent scorer. But, given what Utah needs right now, Richardson’s strengths (especially his perimeter defense) would round out Utah’s roster nicely.

At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, Richardson would be one of the few targets where the Jazz wouldn’t compromise on size. His 6-10 wingspan and solid vertical athleticism allow him to keep both taller and faster players. Richardson has a positive Defensive Box Plus/Minus rating and throughout his career has averaged better than one steal per game. No, Richardson will not end up on an All-Defensive team at the end of this year. However, he would enter this list as Utah’s top perimeter defenseman.

Take a look at this defensive play Richardson made against a Terry Rozier drive:

This game is amazing! In transition, Richardson is able to find the ball, stay up front and give great contest on the lay-up. He even gets block credit on the play. Currently, I don’t see any of Utah’s perimeter players defending in transition at this level. Just have the aptitude getting a game like this on the list would be a massive upgrade.

And here, Richardson shows off his defensive IQ and focuses on that steal:

While it might seem like a simple play, the combination of Richardson seeing both the ball and his man after the substitution is impressive. He uses his length to get into the passing lane and makes a great game. Jazz rarely forces turnovers like this.

Finally, take a look at this play, where Richardson helps roll big, jumps to a perimeter player, then forces a roll:

Again, while this piece may not leave you jaw dropping, it’s one that Jazz repeatedly fails. Richardson just helps in the right places and at the right times and that leads to a stoppage. Having one more player on the roster who can assist and change skillfully would greatly benefit Utah.

On the offensive side, Richardson brings good perimeter shooting (41.1% from three) and good driving ability. Bringing him in would allow Utah to keep solid spacing on the field, but wouldn’t fill the void left by Joe Ingles’ injury.

For the Boston Celtics, Richardson’s trading would focus on moving below the tax line. Richardson is on the books until next season and earns around $12 million a year. I suspect Utah should involve a third team in the trade and include some sort of capital draft to satisfy the Celtics’ desires in a deal.

Ada J. Kenney