Note: With Milwaukee’s 2012-13 season in the rearview mirror, now’s the time to look ahead to the 2013 NBA Draft to take a glance at some of the draft prospects who could be key players as we move into the next era of Bucks basketball. The team holds the #15 and #43 pick in this draft which bring both hope and uncertainty to the table. Who could be the next man to put on the same jersey as greats like Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Ray Allen? Let’s start things off by taking a look at former Rio Grande Valley Viper SF Glen Rice, Jr who’s been taking big leaps off most of the major draft boards.
While the biggest needs for the team will be at guard with Ellis and Jennings likely hitting the road for free agency, the small forward position has been a weakness for the team since Glenn Robinson was traded to Atlanta back in 2002. The team has tried to fill that spot with players like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Mike Dunleavy — fine players who bring varied skills to the job. (If only we could merge the better aspects of the two.) Despite the shortcomings of this draft when compared to some of the more recent draft classes, there are still some valuable small forward prospects that will be available when the team picks with the #15 selection.
As a writer for Ridiculous Upside, a website that covers the NBA’s Developmental League, I had a firsthand opportunity to watch the progression that Glen Rice, Jr. took after being a 4th-round pick of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the 2012 draft. The 6’6″ forward was originally a member of Georgia Tech before being dismissed from the team during his junior season because of a DUI and a reported incident involving an unlicensed handgun.
There are still concerns involving Rice’s track record, but he stayed clean during his stint in the D-League. That questionable track record might have frightened Nick Nurse and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley staff because it took a 35-point and 15-rebound performance in an early Feburary game against Springfield to push him into the starting lineup. Despite the team adding former NBA players like Tyler Honeycutt and Chris Johnson, Rice’s spot as the team’s starting small forward remained intact as they entered the D-League Playoffs.
While Glen’s draft stock and overall position within the league was solid when the regular season ended, it just skyrocketed to the moon (and perhaps beyond) once the postseason started. The Vipers were perhaps the deepest D-League team with a roster filled with former NBA prospects and Houston Rocket assignees, but Glen Rice was the featured act. Averaging 25 PPG and 9.5 RPG during the six game playoff season boosted him from an unknown draft prospect to a potential firstround pick in just days. For example, some draft resources like NBADraft.Net don’t even have Rice listed, while DraftExpress and Chad Ford have him listed as an early 2nd-/mid 1st-round pick with Ford having Glen at #15 (the Bucks’ pick) in his most recent mock.
What makes Glen Rice, Jr. so enticing of a prospect that he’s able to go from a relative unkown to a top-flight prospect in mere weeks? Just like his All-Star father that went by the same name, Rice worked best as an outside shooter averaging 39% from behind the three-point line. While he was best as a catch-and-shoot player, Glen also worked well off screens and off the dribble with his quick and swift release. While Rice isn’t the fastest player in the league, he uses a solid first step and above-average athleticism to drive to the basket. He made 58% of his field goals attempted within the paint.
Another factor that makes Rice, Jr. an intriguing prospect is his ability to crash the boards on the offensive side. He averaged 3 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes, an excellent mark for a 6’6″ forward. Below is the DraftExpress video for Rice:
While his skills on offense make him such a tantilizing prospect, defensively is where things get a little rough. As I’ve mentioned before, Rice is a solid athlete but has lapses during games where he just loses track of the opposition. That aspect alone could make some executives a little weary of Rice, Jr., but he almost makes up for it with his ability on the ball where he averaged 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per 40 minutes.
For a Bucks team that will be looking to build around front-court players like Henson and Sanders, adding an offensive player like would open up space on the floor for those two (and others) to work. The only real problem with Rice is how quickly he’s rising up most draft boards because he would be a fine gamble in the second round, but may be a stretch with the #15 pick.