We'll be evaluating each Wizards player, as well as coach Randy Wittman in this series.
There's not much you can take away from Glen Rice Jr.'s career so far. The highlight of his rookie year came in the preseason on a put-back dunk that sent the Wizards into overtime against the Nets, a game in which they ended up losing no less. It showed off his instincts to follow up a missed shot, his 41'' vertical, and the awareness to let the ball go before the clock expired.
But it was also pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things, and while at the time we anticipated heaps of #FREEGRJR hashtags during the season, we had to settle for multiple stints in the D-League and a lot of games with him in street clothes.
What were our preseason expectations?
In a word: tempered. He flaunted all the tools and aggression you come to expect out of him in Summer League, but he suffered through the same afflictions that ultimately doomed him as a draft prospect. He was excellent coming off screens and making quick decisions with the ball, but he also took plays off and became a little too trigger happy in transition.
The talent level was evident, but he was seen as a project that just needed a little more seasoning.
How did his performance square with those expectations?
Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough playing time to be thrown around. Randy Wittman rarely went more than 10-deep with his rotation, and especially toward the end of the season, curtailed it to the eight-man rotation you saw in the playoffs.
And of course, Rice went weeks without even putting on a uniform. He got sent down to the D-League on two separate occasions, and then there was the incident where he fractured his wrist celebrating a win back in December. It was never made clear how much that exacerbated things as his wrist was sore in the days leading up to it, but nonetheless, he had to sit out the next couple of weeks.
When he did make it onto the court, it was nothing more than just flashes. He shot a sub-30 percent from the field and from three, and never really got into much of a rhythm. But he looked like he belonged, and for the most part, knew where he had to be on both ends.
What does he need to improve on for next season?
He looked polished moving around screens and sneaking behind back-picks for easy catch-and-shoot situations. And his jumper looked picture-perfect when he was able to get his feet set. He holds his follow through and gets good lift, but I noticed he does have a penchant for not squaring himself to the basket as he comes off a screen. Some of the shots he took looked off-balanced and rushed, and I'm sure that will be a point of emphasis with him this summer.
Then there's his off-the-dribble game. He's brilliant using the head fake and escape dribble to evade his defender, but otherwise struggles once he gets past that first layer of defense. He shot a healthy 6-9 in the restricted area this season, but it's the in-between game that could use some work. He settles for awkward looking floaters when he'd be better served taking it to the basket. I thought there were instances where he'd shy away from contact, which is frustrating because he has the frame to power his way to the basket.
Horford is waiting for him under the basket, so this isn't an egregious mistake on his part. But DeMarre Carroll was caught out of position, giving Rice a perfect opening to exploit had he caught the ball and ran. One of the knocks on him coming out was his average first step, but I think part of the problem is he slows down and gathers in order to toss up his customary floater. I think this plagues him and Otto Porter to a certain extent, the coaching staff has to get on them whenever they shy away from contact.
Final Grade: D
This was largely a wait-it-out year for Glen. He was clearly a project coming into the league that boasted some potential in his time in the D-League, but the front office elected not to give him a four-year deal in fear that he wasn't worth the risk. His wrist injury and trips to the D-League cut into his time with the Wizards, but overall seemed to have gelled with his teammates on the court and in the locker room.
We don't really know what Glen Rice Jr is yet. Is he a "3 & D" player or does he have a little more to his game? He couldn't make the most out of his limited playing time, and couldn't hit shots to push Wittman into giving him more minutes. His 3-11 shooting in spot-up situations per Synergy Sports did him no favors either, and if he wants to crack the rotation next season, he'll have to work on being a knock-down shooter.