The Wizards have always talked about having the “next man up” step up in the absence of an injured player, and that time may have finally come for rookie Glen Rice Jr.
After deciding to take an unconventional road to the NBA Draft via the D-League, the Wizards traded two second round picks to acquire Glen Rice Jr. from the Philadelphia 76ers. Rice wasn’t expected to make much of an impact for a team hoping to make the post-season for the first time in nearly half a decade, but Washington’s injury woes have left them no choice but to give him a legitimate chance out on the floor. Bradley Beal, who’s led the NBA in minutes per game, has been absent from the Wizards lineup due to a stress injury in his right fibula which opened the door for Rice to get some extended playing time.
Wizards head coach, Randy Wittman, surprised many by granting Rice his first NBA start on Monday against the Denver Nuggets, and although the Wizards lost their second consecutive game in disappointing fashion, Rice showed flashes of the type of player he could eventually become. He struggled with his shot early on, but he made the most important play of the game, stealing an inbounds pass from the Nuggets with seconds remaining in the game. Like many other guards the Wizards have dealt with in the past, Rice certainly isn’t afraid to shoot the ball, but his willingness to play defense is what separates him the other gunners Washington was home to in prior years.
Glen Rice Jr. talked about eventually getting an opportunity to play early on in the season, stating
However Coach wants to use me, I’m here,” Rice said. “It’s just learning experience. Shots might not fall sometimes. Calls might not go your way. All I can do is just get out there when my time is allocated, just work hard.
The Wizards currently have the least productive bench in the league, so I think it’s safe to say Glen Rice Jr. will get an opportunity to play even when Beal returns from injury.
Unlike a lot of NBA rookies, Glen Rice Jr. has played professional basketball in the past and it shows when he steps on the court. Washington desperately needs someone to give them a spark off the bench, and Rice has the tools to do so. I highly doubt that Bradley Beal will ever lead the league in minutes per game again this season given the potential seriousness of his injury, so Glen Rice Jr. needs to continue playing like he’s been recently.
He won’t completely solve Washington’s bench issues, but he’s been better than any other guard the Wizards have coming off the bench. Rice was called a “draft steal” before the season started, and I think he could live up to the hype