The Six Points: It's been fun, Richmond, but now it's over; Finn Maginness' 'top 50 impact'

Each week,'s Jake Michaels looks at six talking points from the AFL world.

This week's Six Points takes aim at the Tigers' failed season, explains why Finn Maginness deserves big bucks, the sad reality of Nick Daicos' haters, and what Kyle Langford's success in the forward line has taught us.

1. Richmond's season has been a failure and it's hard to see 2024 being much better

I don't believe I was alone in picking the Tigers for the 2023 premiership.

Richmond had rediscovered some magical form late last year, and if not for a three-week stretch where they lost by two, lost by four and then drew, they'd have almost certainly finished top four and been an absolute handful in September. Who knows, they could have gone all the way.

The off-season additions of Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper were set to bolster the ageing midfield and allow Shai Bolton and Dustin Martin to thrive forward of centre. Tom Lynch arguably entered the year as the best key forward in the competition and Damien Hardwick maybe the top coach.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, season 2023 has been a tale of disappointment rather than success. Just nine wins, a percentage below 95 and a ladder position of 13th, with three games to play, is not what anyone expected. They have just two wins against top eight sides (St Kilda and GWS) -- perhaps the two sitting in the eight the majority of the footy public believes in least.

Scoring is down 17 points per game compared to last year, while at the other end of the ground they are conceding more inside 50s than any team not named West Coast or North Melbourne. The Tigers also rank bottom six in a whole host of key metrics, including contested possession and clearance differential.

The younger brigade has been given opportunity, but to this point has failed to impress. Richmond has 25 players aged 24 or younger on their list, yet only three of them are rated 'above average' by Champion Data: Shai Bolton, Noah Balta and Jack Ross. A fourth, Tyler Young is rated as 'average', while the rest are all 'below average' or 'poor'. Worryingly, if the season ended today, the Tigers' first selection in the 2023 draft would be pick No. 28. As a result, Richmond has consistently fielded the third oldest team this year, behind only the Cats and Magpies.

But perhaps the most concerning (and telling) factor that proves the Tigers are in decline is that Hardwick has abandoned the club and is now in advanced talks to coach the Suns.

This season has confirmed two things for me. Firstly, the Richmond dynasty is over. And yes, it most certainly was still alive up until now. Secondly, the Tigers are more likely to finish bottom six next year than top six. That's simply undeniable at this point.

2. In terms of pure value and impact, Finn Maginness can be a top 50 player in the AFL

It doesn't matter whether you're the best goalkicker, ball winner, contested marker, tackler, runner, kicker or clearance winner, if you're undoubtedly the best at something in the AFL, you're going to get paid.

Finn Maginness mightn't be a household footy name -- and nor should he be, having played just 29 games across four seasons -- but he's already proven to be the most skilled stopper in the league. And to those questioning whether that's a valuable skill, I direct you to the Hawthorn vs. Collingwood match summary page from Saturday afternoon.

The 22-year-old Hawk completely took Magpies star Nick Daicos out of the game, running alongside him from the opening bounce until the long-time Brownlow Medal favourite hobbled to the bench late with a leg complaint, which we've since learned will keep him sidelined for six weeks. Daicos managed just five disposals, 28 fewer than his season average!

It's not the first time we've seen Maginness excel in this role. A few weeks back he kept Giants midfielder Josh Kelly to just six touches, he also restricted Bombers skipper Zach Merrett to five disposals in the 50 minutes he played on him in Round 1. Last year he did jobs on Ed Langdon (9 disposals in 120 minutes), Shai Bolton (6 disposals in 58 minutes) and Jordan Dawson (9 disposals in 54 minutes).

In a traditional footballing sense, few would have Maginness among the top 400 players in the competition, but in terms of impact on a game and how much value a player provides their team, how can you deny he's not somewhere in the top 50 if he's able to (and given the opportunity) to do this week in week out? If Maginness is able to consistently reduce the output of the opposition's best player by 70-80% then he's unquestionably one of the most valuable assets any football club can have.

The Hawks face the Bulldogs this weekend and Marcus Bontempelli might be the most in-form player in the competition. I'd love to see Maginness go to him and look to repeat the Daicos treatment. I reckon he should be doing it every single week.

3. It's disturbing and quite sad that so many adults are taking pleasure in Nick Daicos' potentially season-ending injury

Now to the real issue at hand. I've got to say, I was disgusted with the vocal minority of 'fan' reaction when news broke Sunday that Daicos would miss up to six weeks with a hairline fracture in his right knee.

The amount of people out there seemingly celebrating his misfortune was not only baffling to me but downright pathetic. I'm fully aware tall poppy syndrome is alive and as well as ever in Australia, but how can you possibly be glad to see Daicos forced to the sidelines with a potentially season-ending injury?

Daicos has been the ultimate professional since entering the league last year. He hasn't just played flawless football, he's also conducted himself with absolute class. It's clear he loves the sport and is as committed to it as anyone playing the game. What I'm trying to say is that he hasn't given us even the slightest reason to root against him.

READ: 2023 Brownlow Medal predictor

Now it's true that I'm in the Marcus Bontempelli or Christian Petracca deserve the Brownlow Medal over Nick Daicos in 2023 camp, but the 20-year-old Magpie was on track for the greatest sophomore season in league history. Heck, he might still win the Brownlow, even missing the final three home and away rounds. He doesn't deserve all of this hate.

And to those saying it's because he wears the black and white stripes, I guarantee this would not be the reaction if Scott Pendlebury had suffered the same injury. Is it because Daicos was taking a bunch of Collingwood kick-ins earlier in the year? If so, that's just absurd. For what it's worth, 28 players in the league have taken more kick-ins this year. He hasn't even taken the most at the Magpies!

4. Kyle Langford's 2023 return is proof players MUST play in their preferred position from day one

If you had told me at the beginning of the year there would be three rounds to play and Kyle Langford would be sitting just one goal behind Jeremy Cameron on the goalkicking charts, I'd have called you crazy. If you told me that after six weeks, when Cameron had already tallied 27 majors, I'd probably have called you something which cannot be published.

Langford's shift into the forward line has been one of the success stories of the year. He leads Essendon's goalkicking with 45 goals and has established himself as a serious aerial threat, clever crumber and elite finisher. Some are even throwing his name up in All-Australian discussions.

This year, the Bombers have targeted Langford 83 times inside 50 - he has won possession on 60% of those. That's an elite number which dwarfs all of his forward line partners, including Peter Wright (33%), Sam Weideman (33%) and Jake Stringer (48%).

The eye test and production suggests Langford should have been playing in the forward 50m far earlier than year nine of his career. Champion Data's rating points also confirm it, given Langford scores +2 points compared to the AFL average as a forward per 100 minutes, compared to -0.6 as a defender and -2.1 as a midfielder.

Langford was drafted almost a decade ago as a forward prospect, so why has it taken this long for the Bombers to play him in his preferred position? He's not the only one, either. Plenty of players seem to be played out of position and every club almost certainly has someone on its list who could offer this type of production with a simple shuffling of the magnets.

5. What winning and losing streaks tell you about your team

I've long had a theory that you can gather a fair amount of information about a football team -- or any sporting team, for that matter -- by the length of both its longest winning and losing streak, within a season. So, with the majority of this year in the books, I figured it's a perfect time to put that theory to the test.

The longest winning streak of the season belongs to Port Adelaide (13) while the longest losing streak is held by North Melbourne (18*). Okay, obviously these two sides are at different ends of the ladder, but I promise I'm going to dig a little deeper.

My theory is if your longest winning streak is at least two games better than your longest losing streak, you'll play finals. So how many teams have achieved that through 21 rounds? Eight. They are: Brisbane, Collingwood, Geelong, GWS, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Western Bulldogs.

With three rounds to play, seven of these teams occupy a place in the top eight. The only outlier being the Cats, who sit ninth, but they are a curious case. This year, Geelong's best win streak is five and its worst losing streak is three, but the problem is they've had that three-game losing streak occur twice - famously to begin the season and again between rounds 9 and 11.

There are a few more streak-related quirks. Just five sides have managed to avoid a three-game losing streak in 2023. No prizes for guessing three of them; Brisbane, Melbourne and Collingwood (they could notch it up on Friday with a loss to the Cats), but the other two may surprise you. St Kilda, although they do sit seventh on the ladder, it's more that nobody (myself included) seems to think they're anything but making up the numbers if they were to play finals. The other is Gold Coast, languishing down in 14th spot.

Three teams have had both a four-game win streak and a four-game losing streak: Essendon, Fremantle and Carlton. The Blues' run between rounds eight and 21 has to be the most bizarre of all, losing six straight before immediately winning seven straight. It's just the second time in VFL/AFL history this has occurred (Hawthorn, 2010).

6. This is how the final ladder will look. Lock it in!

I've taken out my crystal ball and predicted the results of the remaining 27 home and away games.

There were plenty of tough questions to answer. Are the Pies sliding? Can the Blues head into September riding a 10-game winning streak? Do the Saints stay afloat? Who 'claims' the wooden spoon?

Stick this in a time capsule (for three weeks, anyway) and let's see how accurate it ends up being after the final games are completed.

If this is how it is to play out, then here's how the first weekend of finals would look:

Qualifying finals:
Collingwood vs. Melbourne (MCG)
Port Adelaide vs. Brisbane (Adelaide Oval)

Elimination finals:
Geelong vs. Sydney (MCG)
Carlton vs. Western Bulldogs (MCG)

I don't know about you but I'm already getting excited!