Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Examining Ronnie Price's 2013-2014 Magic Season

Over the course of the Magic's offseason, leading up to the NBA Draft, I'll be analyzing all of the Orlando players that are still on the roster and how they did in their 2013-2014 campaign. I'll be going in ascending order based on games played. I won't be assigning grades or scores.

Previously in the series:
Dewayne Dedmon

Let's take a look at Ronnie Price.

Depending on your viewpoint on tanking, Ronnie Price appeared to be the cheaper - and just as old - replacement for the much more talented Beno Udrih who exited the team after a brief 2-month stint with the franchise. That's not a false assumption, but there was clearly more to the summer 2013 signing of Price than that. For one thing, Ronnie proved that all of his hustle can translate into positive production and that there would be no disastrous comparisons to Chris Duhon.

On a veteran minimum contract, Rob Hennigan really can't be viewed as doing any wrong with signing Ronnie. He's due to make $1.3 million in '14-'15, but it's non-guaranteed at this moment. I feel Ronnie should return in pinstripes. I don't envision Price stealing any meaningful minutes from the younger guys if he's still around next season, which falls in line with how this year went. His value comes on the practice court and in the locker room. But if injuries pile up again, we now know Ronnie can be counted on as a stopgap. 

When you read that Price helped troubled guard Sebastian Telfair get his act together in Phoenix, your eyes kind of open up a little wider. Ronnie's future in Orlando won't be long-term, but he's shown Victor Oladipo, E'Twaun Moore, and Doron Lamb, a few tricks of the NBA point guard trade in one year. Price won't have trouble receiving recommendations in regards to becoming an assistant coach in the future should he seek that path.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old Ronnie played 31 games this season (2 starts), which are the fewest since his rookie season with the Sacramento Kings. Price's averages were 2.4 ppg, 2.1 apg, 1.4 rpg, and 0.8 steals per contest this season at around 12 minutes per contest. Those numbers don't exactly jump out at you. But his athleticism sure does:

Still, I can recall a few games off the top of my head that Price greatly impacted without making a large stat sheet dent. November 13th against Milwaukee saw Ronnie fuel the comeback victory against the Bucks after Magic starters got off to a horrible start in that contest. December 27th saw Ronnie post a rare 7 points off the bench (including an awesome dunk that's the GIF up top) to knock off Detroit. 

There came a point in the season where the 9th-season veteran didn't play the entire month of February. Then injuries forced Jacque Vaughn to start Ronnie Price twice in the first week of March. Just a consummate professional stepping in when he's asked. Always ready for anything. 

The 6'2" lefty had one final surprise in store for Magic fans when he posted a career-high 11 assists on the second-to-last game of the season in Chicago. Price had never tallied double digit assists until that evening. 

When you take a peak at the shot chart, you can see that for Ronnie to continue getting playing time for Jacque - assuming he'll be retained over the summer - that his perimeter shooting MUST improve:

His 30.4 FG% and 20.9 3PT% can't be sugar-coated. They're awful, and they're career-worst statistics. But again, Price gets minutes when a boost of hustle is required. Ronnie ranked 4th on the team in steals per contest. His ball handling skills are fine and I don't worry about him bringing the ball up the court. Price has a solid basketball IQ and you can watch his court vision constantly scanning the court for an open teammate, but has the burst of speed to penetrate the paint and keep defenses honest. That's all you can really ask for from a third-string guy. 

Price really is a genuinely great guy who is well-respected and hustles his ass off. He literally bleeds for his teammates. Sprinkle in some moments of explosiveness and you can get a better feel for how Ronnie has stuck around in the NBA for so long. He knows his role, but he's not afraid to be aggressive on both ends. The guy went undrafted in 2005. Price was offered no scholarships coming out of high school in Friendswood, Texas before playing at Nicholls State University and then Utah Valley State College. Ronnie's story is this decade's version of Darrell Armstrong, and Magic fans can get behind a success story like that. 

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