May 29 2013
Whether it’s Stephen Curry, Carmelo Anthony, Ray Allen, even Steve Novak, it doesn’t matter. Any shooter that ignites a fire is a joy to watch. In some cases, a hot shooter is more exciting than a monster dunk. Shots that are hit at a high clip will make you ask for more and more. Glen Rice Jr, much like his father, is a perfect example of a shooter with those traits that were previously listed.
Because I mentioned Carmelo Anthony, the first thing that came to my mind was good ol isoball (sarcasm intended). When it comes to isoball, you can rely on Rice to score in iso situations, like most shooters. Most draft experts say that Rice’s most eye-catching skill is his jump shot, which greatly follows the footsteps of his father. Like most wings, he has a long wingspan close to 7 feet, which, for a wing, is above the ideal wingspan for a 6’6 shooting guard/small forward, usually. However, his ball handling ability is iffy, as he tends to only drive left in most scenarios, and has difficulty in becoming his own shot creator. And, using him in pick and roll situations automatically turns off any draft scout.
When mentioning shooters, you usually tend to think that they don’t play defense. That certainly is the ruling in Rice Jr.’s case, somewhat. He lacks most defensive abilities you would look for, fundamentally, but can get rebounds and steals at a decent rate. He doesn’t get lost in screens that much, but doesn’t have defensive awareness. He’ll have to eventually acquiesce to guarding wing players of his caliber, rather than guarding small and power forwards in the D-League. The NBA is a lot faster and tougher than the D-League. As a matter of fact, it’s faster x10000000000, something around there.
Knick fans have the right to make fun of J.R Smith’s straying around at local nightclubs, but, unfortunately, Rice Jr. was involved in his own incident at a nightclub involving a weapons possession in March 2012. Rice channeled his inner Plaxico Burress, which certainly hurt his draft stock, and ended up getting kicked off of the Georgia Tech team by coach Brian Gregory, along with having several “disciplinary issues.” Rice ended up playing 21 games in his junior year, and had some pretty decent stats, averaging 13 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG. He didn’t even play his senior season last year, a sign that told him that he may get drafted late in the second round. If the incident didn’t happen and he played his senior season at Georgia Tech, then maybe he would have been looking at a late first round opportunity, obviously depending on the outcome of that season. Rice’s draft stock plunged dramatically after the incident. His future was uncertain.
But Rice got a second chance elsewhere: the D-League. His second chance was awarded to him by playing in the D-League in what supposed to be his senior season at Georgia Tech. It was, however, an elongated, bumpy ride for Rice to enter the D-League. He would have had to sit out a full year if he wanted to transfer to another to school to play, so, that would have been a colossal inconvenience. The D-League draft was winding by, and Rice’s name was finally called in the fourth round by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets D-League affiliate. This year, Rice led them to a D-League Finals championship in a 2-0 sweep, averaging 25 PPG 9.5 RPG and 4.3 APG in the playoffs. Bearing that Finals title in mind, Rice has since then legitimized himself, making up for his careless mistakes from the past. In 42 games of the D-League season, a full D-League season, Rice averaged 13 PPG and 6.2 RPG and close to 2 APG, shooting 39% from the perimeter, along with an All-Rookie Second Team honor to boot. And, the amazing thing? He went up against guys that are mostly older than him, D-League veterans, if you will, and proved himself a whole lot, while playing as a 22 year old rookie. Rice was finally able to focus on the NBA Draft, because at the time of his D-League draft entry, his mindset was certainly not on the draft; it was on playing to his maximum best and potential, making up for his past careless mistakes.
When people talk about an offense that shoots threes relentlessly and without warning, the Knicks come up first in that conversation every time, with the Rockets being a close second by a hair. This year, the Knicks lead the league in three pointers made and attempted, hitting close to 38% of the threes. Rice Jr. is a staunch catch-and-shoot option, especially from the corner. Not only would adding another three-point shooter would make the Knicks arsenal infested with three-point shooters heftier, but it would greatly help Iman Shumpert. As much as I love Shump, his off-the-dribble game was horrid this year; he’s clearly a lot better on catch-and-shoot situations, as showcased this year beyond the arc, shooting 40% in 45 games this season ever since returning from his ACL rehab. Rice can pull up off the dribble with his quick, swift stroke, and by coming off of ball screens, something Shump isn’t really capable of doing, but at the same time, Shump is essentially the Knicks’ only youth, so he’s still developing. Still, Rice would be a good backup behind Shump.
What’s Rice Jr.’s draft stock as of now? Most mock drafts have him as an early second round pick going to a team like the Rockets, which actually does seem like a perfect fit for him, but you never know what’ll happen on draft night. And here’s Rice Jr.’s Top 10 D-League highlights, which, I must say, are pretty epic.
Follow James on Twitter @j_griff