first_imgNEW YORK – Malachi Richardson started receiving pats on the back, leaning back in his chair and breathing a sigh of relief even before his name was announced. He knew he was going to be taken. When commissioner Adam Silver called Richardson to the stage with the 22nd pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, he didn’t react nearly as triumphantly as some of the players who came off the board before.“Just excited to be drafted,” he said shortly after being taken, in a hush tone as tears seemed to dry from his eyes at the podium. “Whirlwind of emotions.”For Richardson, who was projected to be drafted earlier than he was, the wait of almost three hours was tedious. He sat at his table in the Green Room, flanked by his mom and dad as well as several other family members. For some of the picks before him, he stared into the stands as players who were projected to go much later walked past him and up to the stage. When his friend Wade Baldwin IV was picked 17th, the spot Richardson was reportedly promised to be taken by the Memphis Grizzlies, he and his family clapped lightly.But with the 22nd overall pick, the Sacramento Kings, via the Charlotte Hornets, helped Richardson validate his decision to leave school after one year.“It just feels like an animal being lifted off my back,” he said. “Just waiting and waiting to hear your name called is sort of crazy.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textRichardson was picked by a team he didn’t work out for in Sacramento, but he said he spent time with Kings star center DeMarcus Cousins when he was training in Las Vegas. He wore a Hornets hat at his press conference but will instead head to a team that didn’t make the playoffs. The Kings have several young pieces in Cousins, Ben McLemore and Kentucky big man Skal Labissiere.On Wednesday, Richardson said he just didn’t want to be the last person sitting in the Green Room. Nineteen prospects were invited to sit in the area, on the floor at the Barclays Center, and Richardson was the fourth-to-last remaining.It wasn’t what the 20-year-old expected, but it was validating.“There was a lot of guys sitting in the Green Room that everyone thought would be picked earlier and there were a lot of people picked that no one really thought about,” Richardson said. “It was definitely tough sitting and waiting, but it was definitely worth it.” Comments Published on June 23, 2016 at 11:13 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+last_img