Player Analysis: A.J. Price
May 24, 2011
LOOKING BACK: After finishing his rookie season strong and looking very much like the leading candidate for the primary backup point guard role, Price suffered a major knee injury -- a fractured patella -- in a charity game in late May that required surgery. The projected recovery time of four-to-six months cast doubts over his ability to pick up where he left off. But Price came back on the early end of the comeback curve and wound up with another solid season. Inactive for 14 of the first 17 games, Price averaged 16.9 minutes, 6.6 points and 2.2 assists in 37 games under interim coach Frank Vogel. The only hiccup was a one-game benching for missing a shootaround in his hometown of New York. Though his overall numbers (6.5 points, 2.2 assists, .356 FG, .275 3FG) did not reflect much progress from his rookie season (7.3 points, 1.9 assists, .410 FG, .345 3FG), Price entered the season with deficits in conditioning and leg strength, which had to factor into his productivity. Price played well in the playoffs, averaging 8.4 points and .438 shooting in 16 minutes off the bench against the Bulls.
LOOKING AHEAD: A savvy player with an excellent feel for the game, Price has excelled as the backup because he plays aggressively, consistently pushes the tempo and gets the ball moving. He shows signs of becoming a capable defender. A superior shooter at UConn, Price struggled mightily in that area last season, particularly from the 3-point line. Assuming he can stay away from the charity games and have a healthy summer for conditioning and strength training, Price should make the strides next season that were hoped for in 2010-11.
KEY STATS: It was an all-or-nothing season from the 3-point line for Price. In the eight games in which he made multiple 3-pointers, he was 19-of-43 (.442) from the arc. In the other 42 games, he shot 22-of-106 (.208).
CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through the 2011-12 season.
OUTLOOK: With Darren Collison entrenched as the long-term starter and Lance Stephenson a bigger, more athletic challenger behind him, Price will be challenged to maintain his role as the prime backup. At times, he looks like a guy that could start for half the teams in the league because of his ability to run a team; his teammates tend to respond well to him on the court. Consistency of effort has never been an issue, but consistency of productivity has been, not uncommon for young players, particularly point guards. A popular player in the locker room and the community, Price figures prominently into next season's plans.