NBA@2: Houston Rockets Should Trade Picks?
Right now most teams with a high first round pick are busily working out players and trying to decide which one might be the missing piece in their big picture. To be fair, that’s what the Houston Rockets are doing, as well. The Rockets tend to bring in just about every player who is eligible for the draft in an effort to obtain as much film as possible on as many players as possible. One reason for that is to evaluate who they might want to draft now, one part of that is so that they have film on those players who might be involved in future transactions.
One thing is clear, however. The Houston Rockets need another 14th pick in the NBA draft like they need the San Antonio Spurs to relocate to Houston and steal their entire fan base.
This will be the third year in a row in which the Rockets are designated to pick 14th in the first round (they own pick #16, too), and honestly, we’re still trying to figure out what to make of the first two. Patrick Patterson was their pick in 2010, and while he has looked very good at times, there are also plenty of times where he looks lost and confused. Patterson saw more minutes under Kevin McHale last season than he did as a rookie under Rick Adelman, and while his scoring went up from 6.3 to 7.7 points per game, his efficiency went down from 56% shooting to 44%. His rebounding numbers also bumped up slightly, from 3.8 to 4.5 per game, but that’s still not great for a power forward who saw 23.2 minutes per game.
In 2011 the Rockets used the 14th pick to draft Marcus Morris, a small forward from Kansas. He spent very little meaningful time on the court for the Rockets, and when he did play McHale insisted on playing him at the power forward spot instead of his natural small forward spot. As a result, Morris struggled mightily, averaging 2.4 points and shooting 29.6% from the field. Marcus Morris is not a natural power forward, and with Luis Scola and Patterson on the team the Rockets don’t need him to play that position anyway . . .especially with Donatas Motiejunas likely to be on the roster next season. Meanwhile, the Rockets have been looking for a small forward upgrade, despite the impressive play of rookie Chandler Parsons and second-year man Chase Budinger, so Morris might be a player who could help on the wing down the line.
The problem is, before the Rockets can make any really good decisions about the futures of Patterson and Morris they need to see how they respond to more minutes and increased roles, but allowing young players to have significant roles often leads to losses, and team owner Les Alexander is not willing to let the team lose short-term in an effort to get better in the longer term. Given that, it makes even less sense for the Rockets to draft a couple of more players who will need significant minutes to show what they can be in the NBA in a situation where they’re not going to get those minutes.
Most mock drafts have the Rockets addressing their center needs at 14 with Tyler Zeller and perhaps going small forward with Terrence Ross at 16, but neither of those players is going to be an impact player on day one. The only way it makes sense for the Rockets to draft and keep two more question marks in the 2012 draft is if they’re going to trade Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry, effectively turning the team over to Goran Dragic (if they can re-sign him), Patterson, Morris, Courtney Lee, Parsons, Budinger, Ross, Zeller, and a cast of young prospects. That team would be competitive, but would lose more often than not. Then they would be in a position to draft the next franchise player next summer, following the Oklahoma City Thunder model.
What seems more likely, given Alexander’s determination to fight for a playoff spot, would be for the Rockets to go all-in for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. Cash in all the chips – anything the Magic want to make a deal happen. Make Dwight the centerpiece of the team and see if he’s enough to get the Rockets back into the playoff picture or perhaps even into contention. There’s a very good chance that Dwight would walk away after one season, but even if that happened the Rockets would be better off after unloading the huge package of players and picks it would take to obtain him in the first place.
There simply is not a scenario where using picks 14 and 16 helps the Rockets long-term. They are best served to either package those picks with a player or players and move up for an impact player, or using those picks as a way to land a major player via trade. There are already too many players on the team who need playing time to develop . . .playing time they don’t seem too likely to receive in Houston.
NBA Draft: Vanderbilt’s Steve Tchiengang
Vanderbilt big man Steve Tchiengang talks with HOOPSWORLD about coming to America to play basketball, hooking up with John Lucas, his dream of working out with Hakeem Olajuwon, how he expects to impact the NBA, and more in this exclusive interview.
Florida Gators shooting guard Bradley Beal has been making the rounds, including a recent workout with the Charlotte Bobcats, who own the second overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The smart money says the Bobcats to big, likely taking Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson, but Beal liked what he heard in Charlotte despite the team’s horrible record in 2011-12. He tells WFNZ in Charlotte that having Michael Jordan calling the shots makes Charlotte a special organization.
“When you look at it, it kind of does. He’s probably the greatest player ever to play the game. It’s kind of like you’re playing for him and kind of learning from him at the same time. To play with him, or any other team in the league, it would be an honor.”
Could he take Jordan in a game of one-on-one?
“Right now, yes. Back then, no,” quips Beal.
If the Bobcats were to select Beal, he feels confident that he could help them start off in a new direction.
“There’s always the possibility of things turning around,” says Beal. “Look at Kevin Durant, he went to the SuperSonics and they weren’t very good when he went there and now look at them. With OKC, he’s turning them around. It’s always possible that turnarounds can happen with a great supporting cast. You never know.”
While it seems unlikely that Beal would go second overall, he doesn’t have any expectations, and won’t be disappointed no matter where he gets drafted.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t be disappointed. I guess I’m considered as one of the top lottery picks, but I can’t complain with falling because I’m still going to get drafted. Just being drafted, period, I can’t imagine anything better than that.”
Asked to compare his game to some current NBA players, Beal didn’t hesitate to bring out the big guns.
“My game is really, I’m an all-around player. I love to get my teammates involved. Comparing myself to somebody else, the way I shoot, I shoot similarly to Ray Allen. And when I drive to the basket, I like to compare myself to Dwyane Wade because we have the same body type or whatever. I like to compare myself to those two guys. I take pride in my defense and I’m a pretty good rebounder at my position.”
During the college season, Beal got the opportunity to play against Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, who is expected to be the top pick in the NBA Draft. He says he sees Davis as a true impact player at the next level.
“In my opinion, he will, just because of his athletic ability, his ability to shoot the ball and to bring guys out of the lane. He’s very versatile. Playing against him, he’s very long and he’s terrific at blocking shots, getting out on the break, beating big men up the court and finishing at the rim. I think he’ll fit in really well at the next level.”
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