While Washington Wizards first-round selection Otto Porter Jr. will get all the fanfare, it’s their acquisition of second-rounder Glen Rice Jr. that piques my interest.
Prior to the 2013 NBA Draft, it appeared a near certainty that Rice would parlay his successful playoff run with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers — 25.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game — into a spot in the first round.
But being that the first round started with a shocker — Anthony Bennett going first to the Cleveland Cavaliers — it was only fitting that the first round ended with one, contrary to projections, as Rice was still available.
Rice didn’t last very long in the second round; he was selected no.35 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers and subsequently dealt to the Wizards.
While I agree that getting Rice at any point in the second round is great value, I don’t believe he is the right fit for the Wizards. A player with Rice’s talents — NBA bloodlines, shooting, athleticism and high upside — only falls to the second round for one of two reasons: injury or off-the-court problems.
Rice’s most recent team being part of the D-League, and not the NCAA or a foreign league, tells you that the latter was his case.
Rice butted heads with both his head coaches at Georgia Tech, Paul Hewitt and Brian Gregory, and earned multiple suspensions for violating team rules. In his junior season, Rice was dismissed from the team after he was charged with “permitting unlawful operation” for allowing an intoxicated Yellow Jackets graduate assistant to drive his vehicle.
Two years ago, Rice’s baggage wouldn’t be a red flag for Washington, as he would’ve been joining a roster that featured fellow mercurial players Nick Young, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee.
But with the Wizards’ locker room now rid of such malcontents, one has to wonder why Washington would tread down the old familiar path of selecting a talented but troubled prospect.
Maybe Washington believes Rice’s exposure to life in the D-League helped him mature, and that a now strong locker room can continue to foster his growth in maturity.
Still, Washington went to great lengths to rid themselves of players like Rice. Through the amnesty clause, the team paid $23 million just to cut ties with Blatche, and with Rice being such a minimal player — in playing small forward — he’ll always be second fiddle to Porter. He simply isn’t worth the trouble.