On draft night in just a few weeks, the Rockets have a chance to make history with Glen Rice, Jr., potentially becoming the first team in the league to draft a legitimate NBA prospect out of its own developmental system. The OKC Thunder did something similar in acquiring Latavious Williams' rights on draft night, but Williams never actually made it to the NBA. Rice's success may have great implications on future talents considering the D-League as a legitimate alternative to college.
Rice has a good physical profile for a shooting guard and a great deal of talent. He stands 6’5.75", 210 lbs with a 6’9.25" wingspan, and obviously looks the part of an NBA 2-guard. However, a series of poor decisions off the court cost the once highly touted high school recruit his place on the Georgia Tech basketball team. Instead of finding a new school to finish his final year of eligibility, he entered the NBA Development League draft pool, and 55 players were drafted before Rice's name was called by the Rocket's affiliate Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
It’s no surprise that Rice was among standouts at the NBA combine; he had a year of NBA level training regimen on most of the prospects. Google a picture of Glen Rice, Jr. at Georgia Tech, then compare it to a picture of him at the combine, you’ll see a much thicker, stronger athlete. He played against stronger men and had a more demanding schedule in the D-League and came away a better physical specimen.
When it comes to the court, Junior shoots the ball just like his daddy Glen Rice used to do. He shoots with a lot of arm, has a fluid wrist motion, and good elevation and quick release, high arcing shot with decent rotation. He did not shoot very well at Georgia Tech, but he found his outside stroke with a wide open, trigger happy offense at RGV. A dangerous shooter from range, Glen Rice had no reservation about taking a 3 from NBA range, even getting in the habit of taking shots a foot behind the 3 point line.
He has so much arms strength and elevation, that he makes it from 25-26 feet with regularity. Although the pedigree is great, he’s not the caliber of shooter G Money was. Rice doesn't always finish his follow through, he's not as automatic as one would hope in catch and shoot situations, and occasionally hesitates for no reason. His free throw shooting may also be a point of concern; he had a sub-70% free throw percentage at Georgia Tech, and only shot 74% as a Viper. Rice does not show consistent form from the line, as he sometimes bends his knee low as his father used to, and other times not at all. His overall shot selection is questionable as well; he makes a lot of contested shots, and definitely benefited from playing in an offense that very liberally uses the 3 point line to float up his shooting efficiency.
Junior may not shoot as well as daddy, but he sure as hell can out-jump him. His 40.5 inch max vertical and 33 inch standing vertical ranks or ties him among top 5 in the combine. He plays above the rim, attacks it every chance he gets. He's not the most fluid ball handler, and thus Rice cannot consistently get to the rim off the dribble, but he is pretty damn physical for a 210lb guy. If he can't get all the way to the rim, he will muscle his way to the paint and use his elevation for a score. He also actively asks for possessions in the post if he matches up with smaller guards, where he again just bullies and elevates.
In transition, Glen Rice, Jr. is a highlight waiting to happen. Alley oops, 2 hand slams, tomahawk jams, you name it, Rice can deliver it. That raw leaping ability also makes him a huge factor in rebounding and shot blocking. He is an outstanding shot blocker for his size, with good timing and awareness at the rim. I have also seen him block jump shots on multiple occasions just because he explodes off the ground so quickly and powerfully. In rebounding, he may not always have the best fundamentals, but his sheer length and leaping ability negates a lot of errors. He is also quite good at tracking the ball off the rim, allowing him to track down long rebounds that RGV’s offense often creates.
At 22 years old, Rice still has a lot of holes in his game. I would not rank his basketball IQ as high. Passing and running pick and rolls are all still work in progress, but they all have been trending upwards in recent years. Rice shows some good instincts in making highlight passes on the move, but struggles on some of the more basic passes.
The D-League is not a good place to learn defense (which makes the name somewhat ironic), but Rice has overall poor fundamentals, often caught standing upright and flat footed off the ball, he takes bad angles on defense, and picks up cheapies on bumps and reaches. He gets steals and blocks playing weakside defense, but sometimes at the expense of completely ignoring his assignment. He can finish at the rim with the best of them, but bump him 2 feet out, then it’s often a wild shot. Rice makes a lot of highlight plays out of pure athleticism and hot shooting, but he is a lesser player than his highlight would suggest. I’d tread very carefully with Rice if I were a team in the early to mid first round.
The best thing about Glen Rice Jr.? Draft him or not, I am pretty confident the Rockets know everything there is to know about him. Other teams get to know him in workouts, in film, and in interviews but the Rockets have a staff that watched him all year from practice to on the court, can talk to players with first hand experience of playing with him, people that have formed close relationships with him. Other teams get trailers, but the Rockets had the sneak preview of the whole movie. If the Rockets have anyone pegged in this draft, it’s Glen Rice Jr.
PROS: NBA size, NBA range and beyond, above average shooter, ATHLETIC AS HELL, already knows Rockets' system and players. Looks good in a red uniform.
CONS: Mediocre Basketball IQ. Poor defense and shot selection. If you google Glen Rice, Jr. shooting, top results are not about his shooting.