Jacob Raim - WashingtonWizards.com
Otto Porter Jr. was not the only Jr. to land with the Wizards on Thursday night. The Wizards moved their 38th and 54th overall picks (Nate Wolters went 38th, Arsalan Kazemi went 54th) for Glen Rice Jr. from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBDL, who was taken with the 35th overall pick by Philadelphia. Grunfeld said that Rice was very high on their draft boards primarily due to his ability to shoot the ball and that is certainly something that he brings to the table. Rice was rated highly on many draft boards, being rumored to be going as high as 15 to Milwaukee and was deemed a first round talent by pundits like Chad Ford and David Aldridge. Rice does come with some baggage after making some mistakes during his time at Georgia Tech but seemed to mature a lot during his year in the D-League playing for the Rockets affiliate in Rio Grande. That baggage probably cost him a guaranteed contract as a first round pick but may have allowed the Wizards to get a steal in the second round.
Rice Jr. comes to the Wizards with quite the basketball pedigree, being the son of Rice Sr., who won an NCAA title at Michigan and an NBA title with the Lakers in 2000. He was a three time NBA all-star who was always known for being a great shooter, something his son hopes will be his calling card as well. Rice Jr. played his high school ball in Georgia and eventually was recruited to play at Georgia Tech along with Derrick Favors. Rice played three years at Georgia Tech, improving his numbers each year and eventually averaging 13 points and 6.7 rebounds his junior year. After his junior year though, Rice had an incident involving driving under the influence and discharging a firearm and was dismissed from the team by head coach Brian Gregory.
Following his dismissal from Georgia Tech, Rice elected to enter the NBA Developmental League draft where Rio Grande took him in the fourth round. He played very limited minutes early in the year but exploded on February 4th for 35 points and 15 boards and never looked back. He was one of the most effective players in the league over the rest of the year and raised his NBA draft stock significantly. He averaged 12 points and 6.6 boards for the year but that does not tell the whole story. His growth over the course of the year was evident during the D-League finals where he averaged 29 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 3.5 blocks, leading Rio Grande to a championship along the way. Coming to the NBA draft from the D-League is a very unconventional route, and should be a good test case for how the D-League really can help develop players.
By all accounts, Rice put the indiscretions of his past behind him during his year in the D-League and he brings a lot of talent to the Wizards for a second round pick. When watching film on him, the fact that he has a great motor and competes on every single play jumps out at you, and while that may sound cliché, it's very evident from the tape. His athleticism is unquestionable. He's a versatile wing who at 6'6 can play either the two or the three and defend either position. It is offense that is Rice's calling card though and he has an arsenal of weapons he can draw from to score, and scoring is something the Wizards need more of. When he was on last year, he got to the hoop at ease and converted well at the rim, as well as using his body well to draw contact. He has good shooting mechanics but needs to develop consistency on his jumper, but it's easy to picture him as a weapon from the outside at the next level. Rice Jr. led the D-League with 1.18 points per play on guarded catch-and-shoots though. He needs work on his ball handling and distribution, but that is not something that will be asked of him too much, at the least in the early going. He also crashes the boards well with good size for a shooting guard.
The biggest thing for Rice to carve a role on an NBA roster will be if he can prove his maturation is for real and stay out of trouble. He was suspended three separate times at Georgia Tech including the final one which resulted in his dismissal. With Wittman knowing that, and having no tolerance at all for immature behavior, it's going to be up to Rice to prove he's moved past those actions at Georgia Tech. His former coach at Georgia Tech, Paul Hewitt, said "There’s no question he’s an NBA player. He scores, he can dribble. He can pass. He’s got a great IQ for the game. He’s just got to continue to mature and make good decisions.”
Nothing is guaranteed when you are a second round pick, but given the Wizards' trade and opinions of him, everything seems in place for Rice to be a nice piece on this up and coming Wizards squad going forward. In an ideal scenario, Rice would be asked to be a high energy scoring option off the bench on the second unit. The Wizards second unit went through some scoring dry spells last year and Rice will hopefully help to alleviate that.
Welcome to DC Glen!