Summertime isn't when the majority of fans are paying attention to the NBA, but that's when a lot of the work is put forth that translates to success. It's safe to say Glen Rice Jr. turned heads in the Las Vegas Summer League as a member of the Washington Wizards.
As Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears reported, Rice was named the league MVP on Sunday:
Wizards guard Glen Rice, Jr., was named MVP of the Vegas Summer League after averaging a league-leading 25 points and 7.8 rebounds.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 21, 2014
Big East senior associate commissioner Stu Jackson feels Rice's experience in the D-League prepared him for summer-league dominance:
Rice punctuated his summer league MVP campaign on Saturday night, scoring 36 points in a triple-overtime victory over the San Antonio Spurs—including this buzzer-beater to force the third extra period:
After the game, Rice commented on the significance of getting the "W."
"It's always important," said Rice, per CSN Washington's Ben Standig. "It shows what we have, the character. Nobody wants to come out here and lose. I believe we did a good job of fighting through and getting that game (Sunday)."
That competitive streak should serve Rice well moving forward.
Washington has some perimeter shooting on its current squad in Bradley Beal, Martell Webster and aging veteran Paul Pierce. Perhaps Rice can pack more punch in that regard, and the Wizards' official Twitter account also highlighted the strong play by 2013 No. 3 overall pick Otto Porter:
What is Glen Rice Jr.'s ceiling as an NBA player?
The future looks even brighter in the nation's capital with regard to pro basketball. With Beal, John Wall, Rice and Porter, the prospective perimeter rotation of the future seems loaded to say the least. In a weaker Eastern Conference that now features LeBron James back in Cleveland, the Wizards may soon have the means to take a big step forward with their young nucleus.
This MVP award, albeit over the course of just six games, should at least garner consideration for Rice to find a spot on Washington's roster for the 2014-15 season. Training camp will be a better indication of where the Wizards stand, but Rice definitely helped his own cause amid this brief stretch of brilliance.
Rice's unique path to the NBA included a stint in the D-League, where he led the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to the title. Then he played 11 games for the Wizards this past season and also was with the D-League's Iowa Energy.
The ascent for Rice to escape his father's NBA All-Star shadow and even make it to the Association has been unconventional. While it's had to be quite a perpetual grind, it may be just the preparation Rice needs to be a prominent contributor for Washington in the near future.