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Wizards 2014-15 Player Previews: Glen Rice, Jr.

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2013-2014 Key Stats

Games played, started: 11, 1

Total minutes, per game: 109, 9.9

Points per game: 2.9

Field goals: 11-37 (.297)

Assists per game: 0.6

Steals per game 0.5


Two summers ago, the Wizards made a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2013 NBA draft to draft Glen Rice, Jr. – a player with league pedigree, who experienced some difficulties at Georgia Tech, which ultimately lead to his dismissal from the team.

Note: Okay, so Glen Rice, Jr.’s in the league. As is Tim Hardaway, Jr. And Glen Robinson III. If I didn’t feel old before (my 34th birthday is today), I definitely feel it now. Who’s next? I mean, Juwan Howard’s son is good. Sam Cassell’s son is, too. But I want to see some of the lesser known sons get some shine. Can someone check into Keon Clark’s kids? Thanks.

Rice excelled in the D-League for Rio Grande Valley Vipers, averaging 29 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks per game, leading his team to a championship. And while D-League stats generally do not translate to NBA productivity, Rice’s line was still staggering. He was the second unit punch that the Wizards needed.


The Best and Worst of 2013-14

Unless you were truly dedicated to following the Wizards last season, you likely did not see Rice step on the court. His season high for minutes came in a December 9, 2013 matchup against the Denver Nuggest in which is notched nearly 29 minutes. That would be his lone start of the season, and his second highest scoring output (7 points).

Rice’s “best” moments were simply seeing him log some floor time. We knew his minutes would be limited because of the personnel ahead of him, and Randy Wittman’s propensity to keep a short rotation, so trying to gauge Rice’s potential was always fun.

Note: You know what’s not fun? Your thumb slipping off the L button when you’re trying to guard Kyrie at the top of the key:

Rice’s “worst” was simply not being a part of the team’s plans during his rookie season. When Rice was drafted, I was really excited because I assumed he’d work hard enough to keep himself out of a(nother) D-League assignment, since he’d spent so much time there recently.

But then Rice fractured his wrist a little over a month into last season – during a team celebration no less – and that proved to erase any fleeting hope he had for contributing. Rice would go on to do two assignments in the D-League after his last game played on December 14, 2013. He would be designated inactive for virtually the remainder of the season and the Wizards’ playoff run from the sideline.

Blah.

OH, BUT THERE WAS THE SUMMER!

DAT ‘TENSITY!

DAT DOMINANCE!

DAT CLUTCH!

DAT CORONATION!

Rice and fellow rising second year player, Otto Porter, Jr., tore up the Las Vergas Summer League. They’d become the talk of the tournament, Rice would go on to become the league’s MVP, and overall, Wizards fans had something to be very excited about on the heels of their second round playoff appearance.


Get Money, Bench Mob, Hair Transformation

Get Money

As a second round pick, Rice’s contract is partially guaranteed for the 2014-2015 season. That means despite a stellar summer league, the Wizards can cut Rice by an agreed upon internal deadline (likely on or around January 2015) and not incur any further financial obligations.

And while that is seemingly unlikely at the moment, this is a team that enjoyed the lot of their success relying very little on players beyond an eight man rotation.

Rice’s place on this team will depend largely on how quickly he can contribute with Webster out.

Here’s how Rice can succeed:

Martell’s void – In late June, at the conclusion of the season, the Wizards announced that Martell Webster successfully underwent back surgery and was expected to take 3-5 months to recover. The best case scenario, then, would be Webster returning to a semblance of game form sometime in December.
Behind Brad Beal (who is likely to maintain around 35 minutes per game), there is an opportunity for Rice to quickly grab a solid 12-15 minutes of playing time. A key boost here would be his continued great chemistry with Otto Porter.

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Outside Shooting

It’s no secret that Rice, like his dad, has a great outside stroke.

Note: [Makes failed attempt at connecting “Rice”, “stroke”, and “Sarah Palin”.] Nah, never mind.

The Wizards took a different approach this offseason, loading up on front court help. And while that was sorely needed, it left – for the first time in ages – a thin guard and swing man rotation. Leading the reserve unit is 39-year old Andre Miller, who brings excellent floor generalship, but almost nothing offensively.

Rice shot 47% from the floor in Summer League play, but he found easier ways to score than just from the outside, which leads me to . . .

Getting to the Line

Along with his great outside shooting, Rice was almost equally adept at getting into the lane. He capitalized on aggressive perimeter defense by getting past defenders and creating contact in the paint. Rice’s ability to double clutch and fight through contact created lots of opportunities for easy points from the line.

This season’s Wizards, as mentioned, will have abundant big men, but part of Rice’s success of getting to the line will hinge on how well the team’s bench players can stretch the floor.

Rice’s best ally here can be Kris Humphries, who has worked very well to develop a game facing the basket. Last season, Humphries drew stats about the league average in nearly all spots outside 12 feet on the floor (around 42%), creating for himself a role other than a mere rebounder.

For Rice, this means less crowding under the basket and more ways to score.

Hair Transformation

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Last year, being off the court worked to Rice’s benefit, as he did not subject fans to some of the league’s worst hair. Rivaling the likes of only Tony Snell, Kawhi Leonard, James Johnson, and an effigy of Rony Turiaf, Rice confidently donned a bed of gel twists – previously seen at an early 2000s Ginuwine concert.

Over the course of the season, Rice’s twists morphed into a sort of a bushy tuft with seemingly no edges. Odd.

But look where change gets you. It gets you the crown of King of Las Vegas.

Time to Contribute

Overall, I’m not alone in expecting a potential breakout campaign for Rice. He has the scoring savvy and size to contribute in multiple spots on the floor, and his success will aid in keeping start minutes moderate, which Washington saw was highly valuable during its playoff run. This is key, too, considering the team continues to get older.

Also, as mentioned, consistent bench production is vital to a team seeking championship contender status.

And Rice can be a huge part of that.

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