Amazon Contextual Product Ads

Monday, May 6, 2013

Scouting Report: Glen Rice Jr

Glen Rice Jr was unceremoniously dismissed from the Georgia Tech basketball team last season after having multiple prior incidents that resulted in suspensions and benchings. At the time, Rice Jr was on nobodies draft radar as his play on the court had been inconsistent and his character questions off the court were major red flags. Instead of transferring to another school or entering his name in the draft only to go undrafted, Glen Rice Jr decided to take the road less traveled by signing up for the NBA D-League. Up until February, Rice Jr had only played sparingly for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers but got his chance to start due to injuries and never looked back. Rice Jr earned a starting spot for the rest of the season and ended up being a key component for the Vipers en route to winning the D-League title.

The first thing Rice Jr's season shows is that there is no "right" path to take to the draft. Everyone is different and thrives in different places. For Rice Jr, a wake up call at Georgia Tech helped get his head on straight. He was removed from the college lifestyle of drinking and partying and relegated to a life of long bus rides and zero notoriety. No red flags turned up from his one season in the D-League, but there will be some skepticism about whether he can continue down a straight path once he becomes part of the NBA lifestyle.

Rice Jr also benefited from the D-Leagues playing style and pro culture. At Georgia Tech, Rice Jr flashed occasional ability with NBA type plays, but was unselfish and often settled for jumpers. In the D-League, where 24 second shot clocks prepare you for the NBA, Rice Jr was forced to become more aggressive and attack more - which paid off in a big way. Rice Jr was also able to practice unlimited hours unlike in college and hit the weight room hard, as evident from the muscle mass his body added over the season.

When scouting Rice Jr in the D-League, its an easier evaluation to judge his game than watching him in college. The floor is more spaced, the tempo is much faster, and the floor is filled with athletes. After shooting 33% from 3 in his final year at Georgia Tech, Rice Jr ended up shooting 38.5% from a couple feet back in the D-League from NBA range. Rice Jr was always regarded as a good shooter even through his struggles, but his success in the D-League is rock solid evidence that he can shoot lights out in the NBA as well.

Rice Jr was also able to show a post game in the D-League - something you rarely get a glimpse at from wings in college. While there was reason to believe Rice Jr could add a post game based of his attributes in college, actually seeing it materialize is another thing. Its easy for scouts to picture Rice Jr now as a NBA wing because the environment he played in had him doing the same things NBA wings are asked to do.

At the same time the D-League was allowing Glen Rice Jr to show off all his strengths, it also spotlighted his lack of energy at times and poor defense. But just as you can attribute the environment for part of his offensive maturation, you can blame it for some of his defensive shortcomings.

For one, Rice Jr played a lot as a stretch forward where he had to guard post players. Rice Jr got beat up defensively on the block. Rice Jr was a NBA frame, but still has plenty of room to fill out between the shoulders. He's done a great job this year starting that process.

The D-League season is also more of a grind and a lack of defense/effort at times isn't harped on as much as it is in college. While it is nobodies fault but Rice Jr's for being slow to get back on defense, this wasn't something that looked like an issue while he was at Georgia Tech. At Tech, Rice Jr was a good defender who created steals and blocks by using his instincts and athleticism.

Having said all that, I decided that it was best that I also take a hard look at Glen Rice Jr's game film from not just the D-League, but from college as well to level the playing field from him and other prospects.

While watching, it was easy to make sense of his success this year. He showed the ability to shoot from range, off screens, and off the dribble. He also showed that he had a very good feel for the game on the offensive level and could get to the rim when he wanted to. However, Rice Jr was often too passive and unselfish to take advantage of that.

As a shooter, Rice Jr tended to prefer to shoot while moving to the right. This was a bit odd considering that on the Vipers he always looked to go left. Rice Jr displayed that same excellent shooting touch from all over the court as he did this season. There is no questioning his shooting abilities - just like there was no questioning his former all-star father's shooting abilities. He has a quick effortless release and did a nice job at Georgia Tech getting set to shoot coming off screens - both with and without the ball.

At Georgia Tech, Rice Jr had a tendency to make some shots harder than they had to be. He would hesitate on 3-pt shots, often taking an extra dribble when he didn't have too. Rice Jr is a good shooter off the bounce, but he could have been more efficient with more set shots.

His patience and unselfishness on offense also showed good things too. He's an excellent passer for his height/position. He lets the game come to him and will make quick touch passes to teammates if they are open. Rice Jr understands ball movement and isn't focused on his own stats. He got the ball in the post and also did a nice job subsequently cutting to the rim for easy baskets.

His ability to move in space and find the soft spot on defenses is one of the reasons he did such a good job for the Vipers. In college, there is less space but he still managed to show off this strength of his. He was able to both facilitate offense and score around the foul line, showing nice touch on a floater in the process. He also did a nice job working off the ball coming around screens.

Rice Jr also got some pick and roll looks. While he didn't usually attack the defense from this position with the dribble, he did make some nice passing from these sets showing off his court vision. Rice Jr has very good awareness and a high hoops IQ on the offensive end. He also took a lot of 3-pt jumpers in pick and roll sets - again, often moving to his right.

When it comes to his attacking game, this is one area where he showed flashes but not consistently enough. This year in the D-League he made major improvements by attacking defenders who closed out hard on him. In college, he showed the same kind of hesitations on closeouts, but a lot of times he still ended up shooting a jumper. When he did attack, he was very successful thanks to a good first step and wide shoulders. Rice Jr isn't quick with the ball, but he does remain under control in drives and is able to cross up defenders. He also showed off his handles in transition where behind the back moves weren't uncommon.

Another thing that I would classify as "NBA moves" that Rice Jr showed off was his ability to get to the rim with only two bounces. This showed in the D-League as well. He's a great straight line attacker who can mix in a crossover move if necessary. When it comes to finishing, Rice Jr has some dexterity, explosiveness, and strength at the rim. Finishing can become a big strength for him as well.

At this point in time, Rice Jr needs to threat of the jumper to create most of his offense. Although he has a nice driving game, he struggles to get by defenders in isolation/standstill situations. His first step isn't elite and his quickness is below average. Watching him in the D-League, it was very telling watching him discover this for himself against elite athletes.

Defensively, Rice Jr uses his athleticism to get both blocks and steals. He is a great shot blocker coming from the weakside. And while he looked disinterested in help defense in the D-League at times, he showed very promising awareness at Georgia Tech. At Georgia Tech he also did a good job staying disciplined while contesting shots and coming up with steals. He has the frame to handle physical wings and the versatility to guard multiple positions. There is a concern with his foot speed on the perimeter and he certainly won't be a lock down guys, but he's IQ and end to end athleticism can allow him to be a very good team defender (see James Posey). For that to happen though, he will need to change the bad habits he developed this year in the D-League in terms of not hustling and being attentive. At times it looked like he had zero awareness on the defensive end, but I think that is more attributed to his energy/focus than his feel and understanding for the game.

Overall, Glen Rice Jr has used his one year out of college to turn himself into a legitimate NBA prospect and he should definitely be drafted. The question now is "how high?". He has an edge on the rest of the prospects when it comes to adjusting to the NBA game and he also has the shooting ability that will translate right away. After reviewing his college tape, his D-League success doesn't seem like a fluke at all. Scouts will still have to question whether he can keep his head on straight once he gets drafted, but he has the talent of the possible first round draft pick in this draft.

No comments:

Post a Comment