Midseason Grades: A.J. Price, the starter who wasn't signed to be a starter

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Price was asked to be John Wall's backup, but had to fill a much larger role after Wall missed the first two months of the season.

It's not technically midseason, but with this being the all-star break, we could think of no better time than to issue midseason report cards. In this edition: A.J. Price, the backup point guard who has already started a career-high 22 games this season.

The Good

If you ask most people what they're looking for in a backup point guard, it would be passing and defense, particularly if the starter is as explosive as John Wall. The Wizards didn't need A.J. Price to be a catalyst when they signed him, just a caretaker. In that sense, he's been a great fit for the Wizards this season. He's posting a career high assist rate this season while posting career lows in usage and turnover rates.

Defensively, he's been great as well. While much has been made of how well the Wizards have performed defensively since John Wall returned, this was still a great defensive group beforehand and Price was a big part of that. He's posting a career high in defensive win shares this season and while the team is doing slightly better defensively with him off the court, keep in mind how often Price was stuck on the floor when the Wizards were taking it on the chin early in the season.

The Bad

Other than his ability to keep his assist to turnover rate high, Price hasn't offered much of anything offensively. His shooting percentages this season look a lot like John Wall's; except that Wall can get to the free throw line, get easy points in transition and even if he isn't scoring, can penetrate enough to open up more opportunities for his teammates. In other words, Wall can overcome his shooting woes with his other strengths. Price can't, and that's why the Wizards' offense so inept before Wall returned. Price would be much better suited on a roster with a ball-dominant wing player that could handle more of the playmaking burden, but that's just not the case here.

Expectations for the second half

Now that Price is settling into the role he was signed to fill this season, we should be able to enjoy more of the positives that he brings to the table without having to worry about the negatives as much. The thing worth watching will be how often Randy Wittman pairs him up with Jordan Crawford. With the roster the way it is at the moment, they make a lot of sense as a backcourt pair: Price can give Crawford support defensively, and Crawford can handle some of the playmaking duties. If he can make that pair effective for 10 minutes a game, it helps take some of the pressure off of Wall and Bradley Beal.

How would you rate Price's season on a scale of 1-10, and what would you like to see from him in the second half of the season?

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