When it comes to making an immediate impact on the league, Isaiah ‘J.R.’ Rider certainly burst onto the scene in his Rookie season. Drafted with the 5th pick of the 1993 Draft, by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rider straight away put up big numbers averaging 16.6 points per game which would earn him first team All-Rookie honours. To cap off his first year in the NBA, Rider also dazzled at the Slam Dunk contest by winning it with an iconic between the legs baseline dunk.
The sky was the limit for ‘J.R.’ Rider, and he once again put the NBA on notice averaging 20.4 points a game and 3.3 assists in his second season at the Timberwolves. Was this a superstar in the making? Unfortunately not quite, Rider a man with immense talent started to find him self getting in trouble off the court. After a number of incidents the Timberwolves decided they had no option but to move Rider on from the organisation. As a huge 90s basketball fan, Rider was massive when he burst of the scene wearing that nice ‘blue’ old school Timberwolves jersey. It was a real shame that he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, before he could develop a consistent career in Minnesota.
Click on link below for Isaiah’s iconic Slam Dunk Contest dunk:
Rider continued to put up respectable numbers whilst at the Trail Blazers, his most notable year being he 1997-98 season where he averaged 19.7 points per game. Rider had a good all round offensive game he could shoot the 3-ball and slash to the basket with great athleticism. His career field goal percentage of 44% demonstrated he was more than capable of getting buckets. Rider spent a season in Atlanta in 2000 where he averaged 19.3 points per game. Once again his off court antics got him in loads of trouble, and the Hawks ran out of patience after just 60 games.
It would be his next destination, the very accomplished Los Angeles Lakers, that Rider would find some success. Coming off the bench he averaged 7.6 points per game and played a nice role for the Lakers during the 2000-01 season. However, he did not see any minutes during the playoffs. The Lakers would win the 2001 NBA Championship, and Rider was still eligible to get a ring, and he did. Rider tried his luck one more time, when he played for the Denver Nuggets during the 2001-2002 season. Unfortunately he only managed 10 games before he was waived by the Nuggets.
I would have to say that Rider’s career did not reach its full potential, after he burst on the scene as that young, confident dunking machine for the Timberwolves. His career stats still look pretty good with averages of 16.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game, but I can’t help but think if the off-court antics of Rider didn’t get the best of him, he could have been a superstar of the league.
Rider wore two numbers during his career #34 and #7