COMMENTARY | With the NBA Finals over, and the discussions about LeBron James’ legacy quieting to a dull roar, talking points will shift to the NBA draft before revolving around Dwight Howard and Chris Paul’s free agency destinations.
However, during that window between LeBron-related hyperbole and free-agent speculation, the focus will be on the prospects of the 2013 NBA draft. Despite the annual grumblings about a weak draft, optimism, like it always does, has taking root, because you never know how good a draft will be until the players hit the court. This year, my tortured franchise, the Philadelphia 76ers, will have the 11th pick in round one, and the 12th pick in round two. Once again, the Sixers failed to secure a top pick, despite another failed season. They’re inept at being inept.
However, there is no reason to be discouraged. Having a high draft pick doesn’t guarantee you a great player. After all, Kwame Brown went No. 1 overall. Coincidentally, he’s under contract with the 76ers. To continue my point, it’s about picking the right guys, and I think the Sixers should take a really hard look at Glen Rice Jr.
The son of the former 3x NBA All-Star has burst onto the scene after a tumultuous stay at Georgia Tech that resulted in him being kicked out. This usually spells the end of one’s NBA dreams, but Rice was determined to clean up his life. Instead of transferring to a new school, which would have required him to sit out a year, he signed up for the NBA D-League. This technically made him eligible for the draft, but his odds of getting picked were remote. He didn’t even get drafted by a D-League team until the 4th round, finally being selected at number 55 by the Houston Rockets’ affiliate the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. After 22 games he only logged 147 minutes and averaged 6.6 points. Then he got to start on February 4th and everything changed. Glen Rice Jr. dropped 35 points and shot 6-10 on 3-point attempts. He even grabbed 15 rebounds. As a starter he is averaging 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and is a scorching 43% from long range.
Rice is a physical specimen, standing 6-6 with a 40-inch vertical leap and a 6-9 wingspan. He’s also 22, which is still fairly young, and would be a perfect fit on a 76ers team that struggles from the perimeter. He’d be especially useful if they resigned Andrew Bynum. Rice Jr. would shine playing in the starting lineup with Jrue Holiday, Jason Richardson, and a banger like Bynum on the block. His presence would either force Evan Turner to step his game up, or encourage the Sixers to finally trade the former star of Ohio State, which they should also consider doing during the draft. Mark my words, Glen Rice Jr. is a draft steal, and any GM that grabs him will be labeled a genius.
Ian White is a Yahoo! Sports contributor and freelance copy editor living in Philadelphia, PA. He’s been cheering and cringing at Philadelphia 76ers games for nearly 20 years.
Follow Ian on Twitter @ATrueCynic.