After a tumultuous end to his college career, Glen Rice Jr. found himself on a path very few before him had taken. While it started out a little rocky, he stuck through the grind of the D-League and came out of the other side on top with some gaudy stats and a championship.
His hard work paid off this summer in the form of a second round selection in the draft by the Washington Wizards and now, he has the opportunity to prove himself in the most competitive basketball league in the world. But there is no excuse for Rice anymore. We've seen the bad and we've seen the good. Now, he's got to keep his head screwed on tight to prove that those red flags are a thing of the past.
But aside from that, one can't help but wonder what kind of impact he can have off the Wizards' bench this season. After all, he had an outstanding postseason, which showcased what he is truly capable of. Should we hold him to those standards, or is that expecting far too much from him?
Three Point Shooting
In 42 regular season games with the Vipers, Rice knocked down 67 threes at a very impressive rate - 38.5 precent. Had he not come off the bench and played limited minutes in the first 17 games of the season, he would have been on pace to finish in the top 10 in threes made on the season.
However, there are some things to note about his shooting ability.
Let's be clear, Rice can make very tough shots. While that is all fine and dandy when he's got the hot hand, it also leads him to a false sense of security, as he falls in love with 25-footers on the fast-break and pull-up threes within seconds of a new shot clock. Quite simply, he won't get those same opportunities with the Wizards and he'll have to be much more selective when firing from deep in the NBA.
You'll also notice in the video below that most of Rice's threes come from spot-ups. When he does curl off of screens as the ball handler, as well as off the ball, he isn't nearly as effective, which limits his opportunities in half-court sets. Luckily for him, that shouldn't be too much of an issue because John Wall is excellent at getting into the lane, forcing the defenses to collapse and dishing it out to shooters. However, if he were able to improve in that department, he'd become a much bigger asset.
Attacking The Basket
Rice's driving game is a weird one to me. He isn't exceptionally quick, nor a particularly gifted ball handler, yet defenders have to close out on him thanks to his shooting touch, which opens up lanes to the basket. In saying that, he'd much rather settle for a contested three than to take his defender off the dribble, and when he does decide to attack the basket, he clearly favors going left and struggles to finish with that hand.
To add to that, Rice doesn't look to power his way to the basket. Instead, he relies on athleticism and wingspan to get his shot off over taller defenders. The problem with that approach is that he tends to make a lay-up much harder than it needs to be by opting to double-pump his shot instead of going up strong. It also lowers his chances of getting fouled.
Rice has very good size for an NBA wing - 6-foot-6 tall, 6-foot-9 wingspan - and an impressive max vertical - 40.5-inches - which makes him a pretty easy target. And despite his tendency to avoid contact when attacking the basket, he was still able to get his shot off and finish at a pretty high rate thanks to those hops and wingspan of his.
A large portion of Rice's points last season - 23 percent - came off of fast-breaks, per Draft Express. Quite often, teammates would throw baseball passes to him, giving him a chance to go up and get them himself. He also does a good job of contesting shooters and leaking out, leaving him more often than not in a one-on-one situation. Given all his aforementioned physical tools, it's hard to stop him in those situations.
Rice isn't a great perimeter defender. He often struggled to move laterally against quicker guards last season, which raises concerns when it'll come to guarding the likes of James Harden, Paul George and Kobe Bryant. His awarenes on the defensive end also leaves a lot to be desired and he has been known to lack effort at times. However, Rice does use his long arms and leaping ability to his advantage by blocking shots and getting steals, which make me believe that the potential to improve is there because, under the supervision of NBA coaches and veterans, it's unlikely that he will get away with coasting through games on the defensive end.
Rice's passing ability may be the most underrated part of his game, but there's a good reason for that: He's never been a facilitator. In his three years at Georgia Tech, Rice dished out a total 185 assists in 87 games, which worked out to be 2.1 per contest. In 42 regular season games with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, he only averaged 1.9 dimes per game.
But then, the Playoffs happened.
Rice exploded on the scene in the postseason and played a major role in leading the Vipers to the championship. But what impressed me the most wasn't necessarily the 25.0 points per game or the 19 threes; it was the assist numbers, as he handed out 26 in six games.
Given Rice's ability to stretch the floor as well as he can, he could benefit greatly from defenses closing out on him by putting the ball on the floor more often and dishing it out to teammates like Bradley Beal in the corner or Nene underneath the basket.
If Glen Rice Jr. wants to make an impact in the NBA this season, he'll have to do what he's always done: Knock down threes. Although this time, he won't have the green light that he's grown accustomed to over the last 12 months.
The good news is that John Wall is among the leagues best when it comes to assisting corner threes - a place where Rice is more than comfortable letting them fly from. He'll also be able to run alongside speedsters Wall and Beal on the fast-break, ridding him of ball-handling duties and allowing him to focus entirely on filling the lane.
But as always, there is room for improvement. Rice clearly has aspects of his game that need some work - going up strong at the rim, finishing with his left hand, taking defenders off the dribble with his strong hand and improving his handles. If he's able to iron those creases out, he could become a good option off of the Wizards' bench in the future. However, for now, it's likely that Rice will be used as a shooter and only a shooter.