For AJ Price, the 2012-13 campaign was quite a shifty one. Price came into the season with a personal chip on his shoulder, and an ambition to resuscitate his short-lived career after a fairly unproductive stint with the Indiana Pacers. The injury to John Wall gave Price an ample opportunity to redeem himself and prove his worth as an NBA point guard, but instead he would become the product of a tumultuous early-season point guard carousel, and struggled early. Shuffled in and out of the lineup along with Shelvin Mack, Shaun Livingston, and Janerro Pargo – all who were eventually sent packing, Price survived the Grunfeld chop, as well as a broken hand and groin injury, finishing the season having a relatively positive year. Not only did Price emerge as Wall’s primary backup, but he was also productive playing with Wall in the backcourt, a critical advantage down the stretch with Bradley Beal out of the lineup.
Scoring: Scoring was rarely a favorable area of Price’s game, but there were spurts of it over the course of the season, specifically after the hand injury and after Wall had returned. Price struggled early in the season getting buckets, but that wasn’t an expectation for him, anyway. Unfortunately for us, Price felt otherwise, chucking up shots at will and launching 3-pointers despite the consistently low percentage of makes. Much of the blame for this is due to the overall stagnant offense of the Wizards and the absence of a primary scorer. AJ’s range would improve, however, as he finished the season knocking down three or more 3-pointers in five of his final eight games.
Court Awareness: When playing his true role, Price can be a very productive as a facilitator of the offense. He can pace the ball well, he can execute the pick and roll (so long as he’s not the beneficiary shooter), and he can get the ball down court in transition. Price seemed to have a good sense of his surroundings, adjusting well on defensive switches, knowing when to get back on defense and when to reach for a board.
Offensive Value: This area can be defined in more than one way for Price this season. While the Wizards struggled early, Price, among others, often fell into the role of a catalyst, which allowed him to shoot the ball more than we can tolerate. However, as the season progressed and the team got healthier, Price merged back into his lane as an efficient caretaker and ran a stabilized offense when he was on the floor. While his scoring struggles maintained an inept offense early in the season, his value as a distributor was apparent all throughout. Price achieved career highs in points and assists.
Defensive Value: Price’s defense was also a positive mark for him this season. While the stat sheet doesn’t depict a lot of his production defensively, Price did achieve a career high in Defensive Win Shares (an estimate number of wins contributed by a player due to his defense – see basketballreference.com). Price defended the perimeter solidly and was consistent at searing off his ball handlers from driving past him. Price’s presence was also particularly convenient when relieving Jordan Crawford, who struggled often on defense.
Hustle/Effort: Whether Price was on his game or not, his effort and will was never in question. He did have a minor issue in wanting to shoot, but it wasn’t out of selfishness. Price’s absence during the 24 total games he missed this season was definitely felt and his assertive method of running the floor was surely missed. John Wall in particular praised AJ’s presence all season long and touted him for his solid support as a backup point guard.
Basketball Swag: Smooooth. AJ wasn’t as vocal as some of his other teammates but when he spoke, it was cordial and confident. His mature manner is a clear example of how the culture of this team is changing for the better. I’ve always said that AJ Price greatly resembles John Legend, but when I asked him about it, he said I was the first person he’s ever heard make that comparison. Here, I’ll let you all decide…
Final Grade: C+