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2016 NBA Draft: Going 22nd Doesn't Damper Malachi Richardson's Dreams

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Pre-draft hype is a strange beast and when you look back to the initial projections, Malachi Richardson was drafted exactly where he was supposed to be.

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Once again, Jim Boeheim is always right.

When Syracuse Orange freshman Malachi Richardson declared for the NBA Draft, the general consensus was that Richardson was going to be selected post-lottery, somewhere in the 20-25 range. In the weeks that followed, the hype took off on Mali and people were saying he would likely to be a lottery pick.

Jim Boeheim was asked about the hype train that Richardson seemed to be riding and he didn't buy it because he's Jim Boeheim and he knows everything.

"I don't think he's moved anywhere. That's just media nonsense. That's just the media and agents talking. Pro teams have not even had a thought about who they're going to draft. The top, maybe the top two or three prospective picks, are thinking about the two or three guys they might take.

"Everybody after that, they have no idea who they're going to pick. You can't tell anybody right now that they're going to go here because they haven't even thought about it."

The hype on Malachi kept getting bigger and bigger, Chad Ford moved him up to No. 13 and others followed suit. The Grizzlies reportedly promised him they'd take him at No. 17. And everyone bought in (us included). So much so that when Mali wasn't taken until the 22nd pick of the first round, there were already clamors of disappointment and failure.

But in the end, Jim Boeheim was 100 percent right. Not about whether or not Richardson should have gone pro, but about how silly we all are for beliieving in the expectations set by outsiders.

Richardson went right around the time he was supposed to go. He'll walk away with a deal that will get him at least $3 million and as much as $7 million. And now he's a member of the NBA's Sacramento Kings with all of the perks that come with being in that fraternity. You can say that he might have been better off staying at SU one more year if it makes you feel better, but Richardson certainly didn't make a mistake.

I'm sure he would have loved to have been picked higher. And sitting in that green room for as long as he did certainly must've shaken his confidence a while. But at the end of the day he was deemed worthy of a first round pick in the range befitting his abilities and reputation. You can't blame the guy for getting nervous.

"It feels like an animal being lifted off my back,'' Richardson said. "Just waiting and waiting to hear your name called is sort of crazy. But I'm just glad and thankful I was picked by the Sacramento Kings, and I look forward to it.''

And so no we move into the part of the story where we just pray that Mali ends up justifying his pro career. SU has developed a strong reputation for putting guys in the NBA but not a strong one for putting successful guys in the NBA. That might be true and it might not be, depending on how you define it, but the better Malachi does, the better it looks for Syracuse.

If you were taking some kind of pleasure in watching Richardson "drop" last night, you're a weird Syracuse fan. And if you're not rooting for him in the NBA, I'm not sure you actually are a Syracuse fan. Regardless of how you feel about his decisions, you can no longer argue that his gamble isn't paying off, even if his selection spot didn't live up to the hype.

You should have just trusted Jim Boeheim. He knows.