I'll admit it: there was always something about A.J. Price's game that I liked. Obviously, I didn't think he was a huge difference-maker, but whenever I've watched him over the past couple years, I've always thought he was a decent playmaker, capable ball-handler, good defender and decent shooter. I honestly was surprised when I took a second peek back at some of his traditional statistics and found that his shooting numbers were so dreadful.
But, of course, even though I'm tasked with following the whole league for SBNation.com, I haven't seen as many of Price's games as someone who has followed the Indiana Pacers for years. That's why I decided to follow up with Tom Lewis of Indy Cornrows, SB Nation's Pacers blog, to find out more about the newest Wizard. Thanks to Tom for taking the time to answer some questions about Price.
1. What are Price's biggest strengths as a player?
Price is a pro and regardless of his role on the team, which fluctuated greatly with the Pacers, he always remains ready to play. He's aggressive, looking to attack and when his shot is going, always ready to pull the trigger.
2. What are his biggest weaknesses?
Consistency has been Price's biggest weakness. He always seemed to shine when jumping into the playing rotation after sitting several games, but his aggressiveness catches up with him in a bad way when he's not sharp. Turnovers and missed shots can come in bunches. It is a tough criticism though since he was never given ample time to work through the highs and lows and develop a rhythm to his game.
3. His shooting percentages were very good as a rookie, but seemed to fall off these past two years. What do you think caused this?
Price has been a streaky shooter and again, I think he's had to suffer through sporadic minutes in his role with the Pacers. He also isn't gun shy, so even when he doesn't have his shot going he continued to shoot like he expected to make the next noe. Personally, I felt he played like he always wanted to make something happen to take advantage of the time he had in a contract year and didn't let the game come to him like he would in a more comfortable role.
4. It seemed like he played less and less as last season went along. What do you think caused his minutes to drop?
Price had a strange season of ups and downs but they are pretty easily explained. Early in the season, the Pacers (Larry Bird!) carved out time in the playing rotation for Lance Stephenson to give the young player a fair chance to play. Finally, in February Price slipped into that role of third guard off the bench and played quite well for a couple of weeks. Then he went through about a three week stretch where his shot abandoned him and the Pacers made a deadline move to add Leandro Barbosa and give more point guard minutes to George Hill. That left out Price once again. He played when Darren Collison was hurt late in the season, but once D.C. returned, so did Price...to the bench.
5. The Wizards surely think Price will play better in D.C. than he did in Indiana. In general, do you think there's merit to that viewpoint?
I'm really excited that Price found a good opportunity to play and certainly think he will be more consistent given that opportunity. I will be rooting like crazy for him because I do think he can be a real solid backup option. Like I said, he's a pro and really knows how to play the game. He's not the most athletic guy on the floor, but can make plays defensively because he knows what he's doing within a team defensive scheme.