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This trade really breaks into two parts: players and contracts.
The swap of Flynn for Miller leaves the Rockets without the services of Rick Adelman's favorite center, who conclusively proved last year that he couldn't defend anyone. Coming off of microfracture surgery, it's likely that Miller will have no further use in the NBA. His contract is still meant to be passed around, because that is how the NBA does things, but he is essentially negative value. Flynn has more value than that, but as a buy-low candidate, there certainly isn't much to be realized. Rockets GM Daryl Morey immediately started shopping him again, so I'd recommend Flynn rent rather than buy. Still, he has more value than Miller and is cheaper.
The future first round pick, which is a heavily lottery protected Grizzlies pick, doesn't have much value. Motiejunas is a lottery ticket that doesn't solve much for the Rockets in the near term. When you draw comparisons to Andrea Bargnani, that isn't exactly a pickup worth going gaga over. Perhaps Houston's front office believes he can become a terrific offensive force, but that seems unlikely. Particularly since scouts can't seem to stop talking about his poor makeup.
However, at the relatively low cost that Houston gave up, it's hard to really get mad at this trade. It's a low-risk medium-reward trade.
Grade: A Woot! Bag Of Crap. Motiejunas may not be more than the next David Anderson or Sam Perkins. Given what the Rockets have invested though, it's hard to fault them for taking a chance on it if their scouts like him as much as they seem to.
Here's the thing about Kansas forward Marcus Morris: he has a wide variety of skills. Anyone around 6-foot-9 who can be described as a small forward does not lack for NBA-caliber skills. He has the potential to be a matchup nightmare against a wide swarth of NBA players. Daryl Morey has described him as having "Ron Artest" defensive potential, which explains why they took him over players like Chris Singleton or Kawhi Leonard.
It's hard to find a flaw with the pick by Morey's reasoning. He's the best player available. It does nothing to actually fix the Rockets problems, but it was still a fairly good pick.
Grade: The five dollar footlong. It's not a bad thing by any means, and you get good value out of it, but if you're a serious dieter, it doesn't actually do much for you.
If Morris wasn't necessary, then Parsons was a pure luxury pick. The Rockets bought back their pick from the Timberwolves at No. 38 and selected the Florida small forward who many had going in the first round. Parsons has a diverse skillset, is tall for his position, and could easily be a rotation player on a good team some day.
However, the Rockets have an intense glut at small forward. Terrence Williams is scratching at the door for somebody to let him get his 10 minutes of pity time. What will the Rockets do with Chandler Parsons?
Grade: That second pair of earphones you ordered online and have already forgot about. Nice to have around, but if it comes in handy you can bet that things have gone wrong.
CBS' Dave Del Grande was tasked with the impossible: instant draft grades for players. Naturally, to get there, he had to ignore some of the trades that happened in his analysis. On the bright side, he does like both of Houston's picks:
No. 14: Rockets select: Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas Grade A
Analysis: The Rockets scouted international big men looking to replace Yao Ming and came to the obvious conclusion -- even had they picked No. 1, their best plan of attack is to talk the big guy into coming back.
No. 20: Timberwolves select: Donatas Montiejunas, PF, Benetton Treviso Grade B
Analysis: No NBA executive knows foreign talent better than Minnesota's Tony Ronzone. In the year of the international big man, you just knew the Timberwolves would get one -- and maybe even the best one.
Just replace "Timberwolves" with "Rockets" and praise of Tony Ronzone with praise of Daryl Morey, and that sounds right!
Look, it's silly to grade drafts right away. Ridiculously so. It's a nice sign that some writers liked the Rockets picks, but the bottom line right now is that nothing has changed for Houston. They still have a ton of assets and still need to find a big man or a star. Or both.
One last mock draft to whet your tastes for that sort of thing, as the Rockets close in on the 2011 NBA Draft tonight. SB Nation's Tom Ziller has figured out a way to land Marcus Morris in Houston. The bad news? His second round pick for Houston is completely off the wall and they pass up Tristan Thompson in the process. Yikes!
I have a feeling the Rockets like Morris a lot, and could have been target a move-up to his range in recent rumors.
23. Houston Rockets: Charles Jenkins, G, Hofstra
The black Jimmer Fredette who could drink coffee in college.
I am, as usual, perplexed by this mock. That's become kind of normal thing though, and Morris would be a solid pick for Houston if he were around at 14. Rumors are that the Rockets may be more fixated on Tristan Thompson though, and it'd be hard to see them passing up on him at this stage in the game if he's around.
The Rockets will boast three picks tonight at the 2011 NBA Draft. At least, they will until they make a trade. Much talk has surrounded the idea of Houston moving up, from anywhere as high as No. 2 overall, to the 7-10 range, to trading completely out of the draft for picks next year. For now though, Houston has pick No. 14, the last of the lottery, as well as No. 23 (Orlando's, which it acquired in the Aaron Brooks-Goran Dragic swap) and No. 39 (from the Clippers for Steve Novak).
Here's the full NBA draft order for tonight:
1) Cleveland Cavaliers
2) Minnesota Timberwolves
3) Utah Jazz
4) Cleveland Cavaliers
5) Toronto Raptors
6) Washington Wizards
7) Sacramento Kings
8) Detroit Pistons
9) Charlotte Bobcats
10) Milwaukee Bucks
11) Golden State Warriors
12) Utah Jazz
13) Phoenix Suns
14) Houston Rockets
15) Indiana Pacers
16) Philadelphia 76ers
17) New York Knicks
18) Washington Wizards
19) Charlotte Bobcats
20) Minnesota Timberwolves
21) Portland Trail Blazers
22) Denver Nuggets
23) Houston Rockets
24) Oklahoma City Thunder
25) Boston Celtics
26) Dallas Mavericks
27) New Jersey Nets
28) Chicago Bulls
29) San Antonio Spurs
30) Chicago Bulls
31) Miami Heat
32) Cleveland Cavaliers
33) Detroit Pistons
34) Washington Wizards
35) Sacramento Kings
36) New Jersey Nets
37) Los Angeles Clippers
38) Houston Rockets
39) Charlotte Bobcats
40) Milwaukee Bucks
41) Los Angeles Lakers
42) Indiana Pacers
43) Chicago Bulls
44) Golden State Warriors
45) New Orleans Hornets
46) Los Angeles Lakers
47) Los Angeles Clippers
48) Atlanta Hawks
49) Memphis Grizzlies
50) Philadelphia 76ers
51) Portland Trail Blazers
52) Denver Nuggets
53) Orlando Magic
54) Cleveland Cavaliers
55) Boston Celtics
56) Los Angeles Lakers
57) Dallas Mavericks
58) Los Angeles Lakers
59) San Antonio Spurs
60) Sacramento Kings
DraftExpress has their latest board up, and it looks like a few late movers and shakers could knock some of the assumed top 10 picks into play for Houston without a trade up. Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State has often been in the mix for the Wizards pick at No. 6 and the Pistons pick at No. 8, but in this scenario, they both take different players and Leonard stumbles all the way to the end of the lottery.
At No. 23, the Rockets wind up with Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert -- I'm not a big fan of this pick and think Shumpert is all tools at this point, but maybe he can overcome that. It would be pretty strange for the Rockets to pass up Tyler Honeycutt at this stage of the draft, but with Leonard already on the team, I guess it was assumed that Houston wouldn't take two small forwards.
Texas forward Tristan Thompson is probably the closest thing in the 2011 NBA Draft to a hometown pick that the Rockets could make. Oh sure, Jordan Hamilton is up there, but he's not really a lottery lock like Thompson appears to be. The 6-foot-8 forward was asked about the possibility of playing in Houston by The Dream Shake's Tom Martin, and he responded in the affirmative:
"I would love to play for Houston. Being in Texas, you know? The organization is on the rise. They just hired coach Kevin McHale. He's from a winning tradition. I feel that if I had the opportunity to play for them it would be exciting."
Somehow, I have a feeling that Thompson won't be the last player to cite McHale as a positive reason to go to Houston.
It seems increasingly likely that Thompson will be gone by the time the Rockets pick, but projection systems love him and if these new Jonas Valanciunas rumors that have him going to the Cavs are true, he could be the closest thing to a big man the Rockets find in this draft.
Could he be another possibility in the Rockets trade up plans? Hard to say, but there'd be a lot of support for the pick around here.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford released his sixth mock draft yesterday, and due to buyout issues and a crippling dependence on making me spell eastern European names, he handed the Rockets both Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas. Here's his breakdown of the two picks:
Pick 14: Jonas Valanciunas
Analysis: Could the Rockets really score Valanciunas this low in the draft? Maybe. If Valanciunas isn't able to come to the NBA, a number of teams will feel pressure to draft players who can help right away. There's a chance the Bobcats, Bucks or Warriors will take him. But it's just a chance. However, I doubt Valanciunas will slide any farther than this. The Rockets really need a center, and Valanciunas, in the long run, is worthy of a lottery pick. Nikola Vucevic also is a real possibility here.
Pick 23: Donatas Motiejunas
Analysis: Would the Rockets really take two Lithuanians? Sure they would. Both players are vastly underrated where the Rockets are getting them, and the Rockets have always been the sort of team that takes advantage of a bargain when it sees one.
No word on if the Rockets will take a look at making their logo look more like the Lithuanian flag, but I'm sure it would be a strong possibility in this scenario . Houston would also pick up Michigan guard Darius Morris in the second round, another steal if you believe the projections. So maybe they don't need to trade up after all?
DraftExpress has been the source for many recent Rockets rumors, and in their latest Mock Draft, they come up with one we haven't really heard before. GM Daryl Morey has repeated over and over again that he likes the depth in this draft, and even recently tweeted that he sees 22 first-round caliber prospects. Regardless, after giving the Rockets Bismack Biyombo at No. 14 overall in their mock, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reports that he's heard Houston wants out of this first round entirely:
While Daryl Morey and co. don't appear to be all that excited with anyone in this draft - they're heavily exploring moving this pick in exchange for a 2012 first, sources said - Biyombo could change their tune if he fell this far.
I guess it depends on who you believe more at this point. Morey has been pretty enthusiastic about how he thinks this draft is better than advertised, despite that flying in the face of conventional wisdom. He does have every reason to pretend that he has more interest in this draft than he really does, but Morey doesn't have much of a track record of lying publicly either.
Guess we'll find out in about 18 hours where Morey's true motives lie.
Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas is one of the prospects most-linked to the Rockets at this point. He's got some gaudy European stats, but exactly how does that translate to the NBA? Surprisingly well, according to Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus. Their formula compares his statistics to some players you may be familiar with:
8 Jonas Valanciunas Lietuvos Rytas C Dwight Howard 90.3
In this case, because Valanciunas is so young, the pool of potential matches is very small. Take out age as a factor and Tyson Chandler pops up repeatedly, which is why we used him for Sebastian Pruiti's breakdown
Wow, now there's a pair of helpful players for the Rockets. It would be extremely interesting to see how the media dealt with a European Dwight Howard. Even if he's only Tyson Chandler, who the Rockets nearly acquired last offseason, that would definitely be a) right in line with what the Rockets should be looking for and b) a blow to the stereotype of the soft European big man.
Either way, Valanciunas looks like an ideal fit for Houston if they can move up and snag him.
The Houston Rockets will trade the 14th and 23rd overall picks in Thursday's NBA Draft to the Milwaukee Bucks for the 10th pick, according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress, if the player the Bucks want is no longer available when the 10th pick is due to be made. Givony says he believes the player Milwaukee has its eye on is Jonas Valanciunas, so Rockets fans watching the draft ought to pay attention when his name is called.
The 14th pick belongs squarely to Houston, while it obtained the 23rd pick from the Phoenix Suns at February's trading deadline when it dealt Aaron Brooks for Goran Dragic. The Suns, in turn, had acquired that pick from the Orlando Magic in a December trade featuring Vince Carter and Jason Richardson. Apparently, those two picks together are worth the 10th pick to both the Rockets and Bucks. Only time will tell if the Bucks will indeed make that trade, or whom Houston will use that pick on if they do.
The Draft starts Thursday at 6 PM Central. ESPN has the telecast. Stay tuned to this StoryStream for more Rockets Draft and trade news, and visit The Dream Shake for all things Rockets.
A couple of different SB Nation mocks to get you caught up on today. Tom Ziller's final take has the Rockets taking Jordan Hamilton at No. 14 overall, but somehow still ending up with Donatas Montiejunas at No. 23 as well. Here's the uh, reasoning, behind that:
14. Houston Rockets: Jordan Hamilton, F, Texas
There's no Jordan Hamilton in the green room on Thursday; he's a top bet to come out of the crowd with a dazzling suit and diamond stud. Everything about his game screams "Oh hi!"
23. Houston Rockets: Donatas Motiejunas, F, Lithuania
Picking Motiejunas will earn a chuckle from me. At any point.
Yeah. Okay then. Anyway, ex-managing editor of this very site Tom Martin (The Dream Shake) was tasked with the role of piloting the Rockets in SB Nation's cumulative mock, where each individual blog picks for it's team. Jan Vesley's stunning fall landed him right into the laps of Houston at No. 14, and here's what Martin had to say about that:
Despite Chase Budinger's improvement over the course of last season, Houston should be looking to add more talent to its small forward crop, most notably on the defensive end.
Enter Vesely. He's a tall and incredibly athletic wing player who can rotate between the three and the four depending on his future situation. Many see him as a young Andrei Kirilenko.
Vesley is an extreme longshot to get to Houston, but hey, I guess theoretically it could happen. It would take a lot of missteps by the teams in front of them though.
About a week ago, it was reported that a) Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas had a contract with no buyout, meaning his team would need to be very "convinced" to let him go, and b) the Rockets were likely his floor at 14 overall. The buyout movement has moved, but now ESPN's Chad Ford believes that the buyout won't allow him to play in the United States next year:
Valanciunas update: Sources say buyout agreement close, however, buyout won't allow Valanciunas to play in NBA next season.
If Valanciunas can't play in NBA next year, he'll drop. Cavs won't take him at 4. Still I doubt he slips past the Rockets at 14.
First of all: that would be a steal for the Rockets if true.
Second: why on earth are teams so scared of that one year away from them? If you're already a bad team that needs multiple rebuilding years to get to the next level, then who cares if he can't join you post-haste? In fact, given the draft lottery, one could argue that you'd be better off with him over there keeping your record down so that you could get a higher pick next year.
But hey, whatever, the Rockets would likely take that stroke of good fortune.
We're just a few short days away from the 2011 NBA Draft. On Thursday, 64 new players will be welcomed to the League when their name is called in either the first or second round. For the Houston Rockets, one name has been mentioned with increasingly regularity as a realistic selection for Daryl Morey and the Rockets organization -- Dontas Motiejunas.
Though you may want to turn off the music, enjoy this video highlight package of Motiejunas that certainly displays the young European's impressive offensive skill set and natural ability.
The Rockets, in need of a big man, will be looking far and wide for someone who fits the skillset and defense that they need at the No. 14 overall pick. While they don't find the defense in NBADraft.net's latest mock, they do get the height with Lithuanian center Donatas Motiejunas. Here's what they have to say about him:
Strengths: Versatile lefty bigman with a high ceiling ... Has a lot of potential due to his size, agility and offensive development ... A finesse 4-man with excellent versatility, but shows the toughness to play inside with contact ... Shows a strong ability to run the floor and change directions, start and stop ... Has great legs (strong) and feet (quick) ...
Weaknesses: Is extremely talented and he knows it. At times he doesn't keep the pedal to the metal, exhibiting some lapses in focus and intensity (laziness) in practices ... Sometimes appears content to be better than others without dominating them the way he's capable ... That's the type of thing that he'll need to mature out of, learning to work hard at all times in order to reach the stature of a Gasol or Nowitzki ...
The Rockets pick up Michigan's Darius Morris, a point guard, with the 23rd overall pick. He's been a popular snag for Houston with that second first rounder, which may be some people reading a bit too far into Goran Dragic's future with the club.
The Rockets will look long and hard at the available big man prospects in this week's NBA Draft, and one who might fall into their laps at No. 14 overall is Congo's Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo is about as extreme of a prospect as there is in this draft: the big man shows great defensive ability and rebounding skills, but his offensive game is so raw that it might be a complete liability to have him on the floor. He certainly doesn't lack for confidence though, as this recent profile from Scott Howard-Cooper shows:
So, do you believe you will lead the NBA in blocks?
Will you lead the NBA in blocks?
Can you lead the NBA in rebounding?
"Yes, I will."
You will lead the NBA in rebounding?
"Yes. Of course. Hundred percent."
I don't think there's any doubting that Biyombo can be a solid NBA player, but whether he's worth a lottery pick is debatable. He could be the next Dennis Rodman, or he could be the next Reggie Evans. It all depends on how well his offensive game develops.
The NBA Draft will take place on Thursday and ESPN's Chad Ford has been keeping tabs on just who you'll be able to see walking up to the podium with a goofy suit. Hopefully a suit along the lines of Samaki Walker's. The green room invite list is out and 15 of the NBA's most highly-regarded prospects will be waiting for their names to be called. Here is the complete database of invitees:
Kyrie Irving (Duke); Derrick Williams (Arizona); Enes Kanter (Turkey); Brandon Knight (Kentucky); Kemba Walker (UConn); Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania); Jan Vesely (Czech Republic); Kawhi Leonard (San Diego St.); Chris Singleton (Florida St.); Klay Thompson (Washington St.); Tristan Thompson (Texas); Jimmer Fredette (BYU); Marcus Morris (Kansas); and Alec Burks (Colorado).
A 15th name has been added - Markieff Morris of Kansas. Markieff is Marcus Morris' twin and also widely considered to be a top 20 draft pick.
The Rockets have been linked with each of the last few names on that list asides from Fredette (who skipped a workout in Houston) and Burks.
HoopsHype has the Rockets working on their backcourt with their two first-round picks in the upcoming 2011 NBA Draft. First, Houston is projected to select Texas guard Jordan Hamilton at 14:
The Rockets could use Hamilton's scoring ability and readiness to contribute. He's one of the draft's top shooters and measured very well at a legit 6-8. He failed to impress athletically, however. Hamilton has a bit of a short temper and had some minor run ins with Coach Barnes during his tenure at Texas, but nothing that concerns teams too heavily.
After moving Aaron Brooks during the season, the Rockets find themselves weak at the PG position. Morris could be the only "pure" PG in the entire draft. A big point with excellent floor general abilities. He lacks great quickness but shows the ability to run a team and make those around him better. Morris is probably a little bit of a reach here, but teams really like his ability to pass and run a team.
While I have absolutely no problems with the Rockets upgrading at point guard, I think Houston would be just fine to stick with Lowry if and only if they get that "superstar" they so badly need at another position. Otherwise, I'd rather seem them address their size needs.
A name that doesn't often slip to the Rockets at No. 14 anymore is San Diego State small forward Kawhi Leonard. While players like Chris Singleton, Tobias Harris, and Tyler Honeycutt often wind up available for Houston, Leonard usually goes in the Top 10 picks. Not this time though, as Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com mocks Leonard to the Rockets:
No other successful college player generates such disagreement. One team rated Leonard the 18th-best player in the draft after San Diego State was eliminated from the tournament, a strong statement even if he moved up since by attrition when several likely lottery picks stayed in school. Another executive, though he had not done his club's mock draft yet, said he wouldn't take Leonard in the mid-teens, the cost of not being a standout shooter or a plus-athlete. And now he could become a central figure in the selection process.
Howard-Cooper hands the Rockets troubled big man Jeremy Tyler at No. 23 overall:
Houston Rockets | Jeremy Tyler | C | Tokyo Apache
Houston can go center here. Once considered a major prospect coming out of high school in San Diego, he is working to reclaim that level of respect after disappointments as a pro in Israel and Japan.
Leonard would definitely be an interesting fit, although with the lack of touch you do kind of get a Darius Miles feel from him, which means he may be best remembered for starring in The Perfect Score II. Regardless, take a look at how huge his hands are!
One of the prospects I personally like the most for the Rockets with the 14th overall pick is Kansas' Markieff Morris. DraftExpress has put a video together of his strengths as a player that makes for a neat watch if you're not exactly sold on his athleticism.
Watching the tape, Morris reminds me a lot of Mavericks forward Shawn Marion. He has good traits of both a strong power forward (rebounding) and a small forward (quick hands, range on his jumper, lateral mobility) that could translate well to the NBA. He may not be as good as Marion because he's probably not quite as quick, but he's got a broad skillset that should translate well to the NBA.
The Rockets are often linked to Chris Singleton at No. 14, and while Singleton has better perimeter defense than Morris, he also doesn't have anywhere near the offensive game that Morris has at this point. Morris also has improved every year he's been at Kansas, which is a sign that he's still not reached his ceiling yet. Houston probably has a few better options in mind, and could find themselves trading up to get those, but if they're stuck at No. 14, Morris makes a lot of sense for them.
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress has published his latest mock on Yahoo!, and it has some players going to the Rockets that don't fit neatly into the mold that we're used to seeing. Normally Houston targets at least one for-sure small forward in it's picks, whether it's Tobias Harris, Chris Singleton, or Tyler Honeycutt. According to Givony, however, the Rockets will wind up with Washington State guard Klay Thompson and USC center Nikola Vucevic.
14 Houston Rockets
Klay Thompson SG/SF
21 years old; 6'7"; 205 lbs
Washington State, junior
Standing just under 6-foot-6 without shoes, Thompson is big enough to play the small forward position, and is considered by some to be the best player available at this point.
23 Houston Rockets (From Orlando Magic)
Nikola Vucevic PF/C
20 years old; 7'0"; 260 lbs
The Rockets have undersized power forwards galore littering their roster, but the one thing they lack is a lengthy 7-footer with some girth. Enter Vucevic.
He's not a traditional banger but he's the best center available at this point. He comes with the added benefit of being able to space the floor for Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin to attack the rim or for Luis Scola to operate with his back to the basket.
Both of these picks make sense to some extent. Vucevic in particular has been an afterthought in mocks to this point, but size always seems to rise as the draft gets closer, and the Rockets have worked him out. I'm not as high on Thompson as I am on SIngleton or Harris, but I can see the logic behind the pick.
BYU scoring machine Jimmer Fredette does have a workout scheduled with the Rockets on Friday, but according to ESPN's Chad Ford, he may not attend it. He reportedly worked out very well in Utah yesterday with Kemba Walker and Malcolm Lee.
Jimmer has workout scheduled on the 18th in Houston. But it's sounding like he might not attend ...
What can you make of this? Fredette likely feels that he has established his floor before the 14th overall pick. The NBA Draft is full of promises and other innuendo that could lead to someone thinking they're set at a certain slot, and while this is purely speculation, perhaps Fredette's latest workout led to something like that being established.
It's just as well for the Rockets, as while Fredette could give them some scoring punch off the bench, his upside is likely to be the next Kevin Martin, and Houston already has that. Look instead for them to focus on big men or potential small forward candidates who are defensive contributors.
The mock draft circle of life continues today with David Aldridge's latest on NBA.com. Aldridge has Lithuanian big Donatas Motiejunas sliding to the Rockets at No. 14 overall. Motiejunas has looked terrible at workouts lately, and thus his stock appears to be falling to where he could be around in the middle of the first round. Here's what Aldridge had to say about mocking him to Houston:
New coach Kevin McHale's strength is working with bigs, and Motiejunas was top-10 ranked much of the last few months. With Yao Ming likely done, Hasheem Thabeet still a major question mark and Chuck Hayes a free agent, the Rockets need to start thinking about their frontcourt future.
At No. 23, Aldrige sees the Rockets winding up with UCLA swingman Tyler Honeycutt:
Rockets need a long-term replacement for the recently departed Shane Battier, and Honeycutt's defensive skill set and length could be intriguing to a basketball sabrematrician like Daryl Morey.
Those are both logical picks. The Rockets have worked out Honeycutt multiple times already, and that could be a sign that they prefer him to guys like Tobias Harris or Chris Singleton.
Or it could just be a giant smokescreen. (Ominous music.)
Yesterday was the final day for NBA Draft withdrawals, at least for international players. Because of the NCAA's strident (and ridiculous) rules, there are really separate dates for players to withdraw their names from the draft. International players get a bit of an advantage in this because they can wait a bit longer and see where their stock is going. None of the huge names like Jonas Valanciunas or Davis Bertans pulled out, but Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira did.
Nogueira was likely the only mid-first round center worth considering, and his absence from the pool will likely push the Rockets even more towards drafting a forward or guard with the No. 14 overall pick, should they keep it. DraftExpress has the entire list of withdrawals here. Perhaps the biggest name that withdrew at the NCAA's deadline is Kentucky forward Terrence Jones, who was being mocked to Houston and around the mid-teens before he decided to go back to Kentucky for his sophomore season.
The NBA Draft is a little over a week away, and we're counting down the hours by studying many mock drafts, looking at who the Rockets will take at No. 14 overall, and then watching that all go to waste once they trade up or down. Sound great? Yeah! I thought so.
14. Houston Rockets: Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State
The Rockets have two "pieces of the future" in Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry. One is an incredible scorer, the other a solid distributor and great defender. What do you need at small forward, then? Another good scorer, or another defender? Singleton is the latter, and that's my bet.
Kyle Lowry can put the ball in the bucket, yano, so that probably will also sway them towards Singleton. Why they'd take him over Donatas Montiejunas, with their frontcourt problems, is a mystery to me. Why he would automatically be considered a piece of their future with the 14th overall pick is even more puzzling.
Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas' draft stock has taken a bit of a tumble lately with the news that his buyout may be a bit more tricky than previously thought. Most European players contracts comes equipped with a buyout that the signing team must pay so that he may enter the NBA. There was talk that his buyout will be $3 million or more, but right now there is actually no buyout clause in his contract at all.
Despite that, Valanciunas' camp does not seem all that concerned, and ESPN's Chad Ford suggests that the Rockets at No. 14 overall are his floor:
A number of teams remain anxious about Jonas Valanciunas' buyout situation. As it stands right now, he has no NBA buyout in his contract and is under contract with his team for two more years. Valanciunas' agent, Leon Rose, has hired one of the top lawyers in Europe to attempt to negotiate a buyout of his contract. While they continue to hope that something is worked out before the draft, to date, they've been unsuccessful. If Valanciunas can't get a buyout worked out, there's a good chance he could slide in the draft.
Valanciunas has until June 13 to withdraw from the draft. But don't count on it. His team believes that even without the buyout, he's unlikely to fall out of the lottery. From what I can gather, they believe the Rockets, who are drafting at 14, are his floor
The Dream Shake recently voted Valanciunas as the No. 4 overall prospect for the Rockets in the draft, behind only Enes Kanter, Kyrie Irving, and Derrick Williams. Needless to say, the Rockets would likely be doing cartwheels if he fell to 14.
Appearing on 1560 with Lance Zierlein and John Granato, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey spoke to the quality of this year's NBA draft crop. Morey thinks that while this draft may not have the star-quality players at the top that teams typically see, there is still pretty decent depth in the draft:
"We've got three picks in the draft. There's quality players down to 40. It's not definite that we'll end up picking three guys, but if we do pick three guys, we can get two good players out of three...I think it's much better than people have been talking about. It does lack the LeBrons at the top of the draft, but in the range we're picking, the players are good down to the 40's."
The Rockets pick at No. 14 and No. 23, and while it's likely that they'll make some sort of trade with their picks at some point, these words may throw some water onto the idea that the Rockets will trade up. After all, why would you trade up if the quality isn't there? If Houston is unable to solve their big man issues in the draft, they'll likely stake out potential free agents like Nene Hilario, Marc Gasol (restricted), and Samuel Dalembert in free agency.
With just about three weeks remaining until the 2011 NBA Draft, the Rockets will have some decisions to make about what kind of player they want at No. 14 overall (if they remain there) and what kind of role he will fill. It's not likely that a bonafide NBA center will get to them at that spot, so it will likely come down to a small forward or a power forward. This week's SB Nation mock thinks Houston will go big, selecting Kansas power forward Markieff Morris:
14. Houston Rockets: Markieff Morris, F, Kansas
A poor man's Marcus Morris.
23. Houston Rockets: Josh Selby, G, Kansas
These are their NBA comparisons, which of course makes no sense considering that Marcus Morris isn't in the NBA yet. Anyway, the Rockets wind up with a pretty decent haul at 14. I think they'd probably focus on Tobias Harris or Tyler Honeycutt at 23 if those options were available, but Selby does make a bit of sense on the wing too.
Here's what other sites have the Rockets doing:
DraftExpress:Texas SF Jordan Hamilton at No. 14, and UCLA's Honeycutt at 23.
Chad Ford: Hamilton at 14, 23 is behind the Insider paywall.
NBADraft.net: Not updated since last time, still has the Rockets with Congo F/C Bismack Biyombo and Michigan G Darius Morris
FIRST ROUND POSSIBILITIES
SECOND ROUND (OR UNDRAFTED) POSSIBILITIES
-Richmond guard Kevin Anderson
-Clemson forward Jerai Grant
-Morehead St. guard Demonte Hunter
-Texas guard Corey Joseph
-Florida forward Chandler Parsons
-Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert
-Duke guard Nolan Smith
-San Diego St. forward Malcolm Thomas
-USC center Nikola Vucevic
-Georgetown guard Chris Wright
Obviously it's impossible to glean a whole lot of information from a list of workouts, but all of those first round possibilities are very consistent with the frontcourt help the Rockets have been interested in. Harris in particular has been a hot rumor for Houston, and has been mentioned in a number of mock drafts. It is rather interesting that they worked out Honeycutt twice, though it was on back-to-back days, because that would seem to be a pick that would buck the traditional "Chris Singleton or Harris" idea that seems to be floating around.
No new Rockets workouts are scheduled in their database, although of course that doesn't mean that more of them aren't coming.
DraftExpress had Sebastian Prutii, who runs the always interesting NBA Playbook, put together a series of videos on some NBA Draft prospects. Florida State forward Chris Singleton, who happens to be an oft-mocked Rocket, was one of the first subjects of this treatment. What did we learn from Pruiti's tape study?
- He has the potential to be a lockdown defender in the Stacey Augmon mold, particularly because of how well he uses his length
- His post game is well-established and should be a weapon for him early while the rest of his offensive game develops.
- Rebounding is a plus for him.
- Transition offense is a no-go, and he will force up some very bad shots.
- Is not, by any means, an NBA ready outside shooter.
It's an interesting mish-mash of strengths and weaknesses. He has a relatively high floor because of his defensive abilities, but also has a pretty high ceiling should he figure out the perimeter game. Ron Artest's career probably isn't out of the question for Singleton.
The question is simply: do the Rockets think his offensive game can be refined? If so, he makes a lot of sense should they stick at No. 14 overall.
Looking for elite wing defense to replace what they used to get out of Shane Battier before he got all old and traded, the Rockets select Florida St. SF Chris Singleton in SB Nation's latest 2011 NBA Mock Draft. With just under a month to go before the big date, the Rockets will be focused on trading up (or out) for a big man first. Should that fall through, Singleton makes for a nifty backup plan:
Our Wizards blog is openly talking about Singleton at No. 6, proving we have become civilized enough as a society to look for elite defense in our wing prospect, not just our Thabeets and Biyombos.
SB Nation also mocked Tennesee's Tobias Harris to the Rockets with the 23rd overall pick, ensuring that they'll continue picking that result until the end of time. Or maybe just until the draft is over. Whichever.
Here's a look at what some other mocks have projected to happen when Houston (presumably) is drafting:
DraftExpress:Texas F Jordan Hamilton at 14, Michigan G Darius Morris at 23
Chad Ford: Texas F Jordan Hamilton at 14, unknown at 23.
NBADraft.net: Congo C Bismack Biyombo at 14, Michigan G Darius Morris at 23
Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick has thrown down a second mock draft after the scouting combine, and this one follows the conventional wisdom and sends Florida State SF Chris Singleton to the Rockets. Although unlike most mock drafts, it does not spend time telling us that the Rockets need another Shane Battier. Thankfully.
Singleton is the sort of versatile defender who would help address Houston’s weaknesses at that end, where the Rockets ranked 19th in defensive efficiency and 22nd in points allowed and opponents’ shooting.
Singleton is a favorite over at The Dream Shake, and while he may not have much of an offensive game yet, he does have an NBA-caliber body and defensive skillset from the get-go. If he grows an offensive game, he could become the new Gerald Wallace. If not, well, he could be the new Stacey Augmon? There’s not much downside to this pick—it doesn’t fill a glaring need like a center would, but a player of Singleton’s length and skills can always be an effective rotation player.
Continuing SB Nation's trend of thinking that small forward is a worthy weakness worth shoring up, the Rockets use their No. 14 overall pick on Tennessee's Tobias Harris in SB Nation's latest mock draft. Harris averaged 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds for the the Volunteers last season, and is projected almost universally as a mid-first round selection. Here's what SB Nation had to say about him:
14. Houston Rockets: Tobias Harris, F, Tennessee
Chad Ford recently gave Harris a bar of gold we like to call the "Shane Battier comparison." It's maybe the best draft boost a player can get these days. Why? Everyone wants a Battier, yet no one knows where to find one. Brains, capacity for knowledge and composure are the most difficult things to measure when a prospect is posting up a chair. It's only a matter of time until GMs start breaking out Risk! during player workouts.
Well that's just silly. Everyone knows all you need to acquire Shane Battier is a future protected first round pick and Hasheem Thabeet.
While most reasonable people can agree that the Rockets need help at center badly, the draft doesn't really seem to shake out as helpful for them at No. 14 overall. With Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, and Tristan Thompson all possibilities to fill some sort of role down low for Houston, mock drafters are instead spending a lot of time looking at small forwards for Houston as a match of semi-need and best player available. Don't ask me how trading Shane Battier turned small forward into a need position when the Rockets have Kevin Martin, Courtney Lee, and Chase Budinger on the wings, because I don't understand it either. Here's SB Nation's first mock, which has the Rockets taking Florida St. forward Chris Singleton:
14. Houston Rockets: Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State
The defensive specialist could be Daryl Morey's next Shane Battier; Singleton is a smart, rangy defender with some toughness and a developing (if slowly) offensive game.
23. Houston Rockets (from Orlando Magic): Tobias Harris, SF, Tennessee
Ideally, the Rockets trade all of their draft picks for a time machine to 2004, they wrap Yao Ming's feet in bubble wrap, they get back in the time machine, and they let Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin play off the big fellow on their way to 47 wins.
Hey, a Yao Ming being healthy scenario! How original!
DraftExpress has the Rockets skipping Singleton to take Harris at 14, and adding Latvian prospect Davis Bertans at 23. NBADraft.net hands the Rockets a pair of Jayhawks in Markieff Morris and guard Josh Selby.
The Rockets don't know where they'll be picking for sure yet, but it seems likely that they'll be stuck at No. 14 overall. Likely as in "99.5% chance," which are the odds that Houston would need to defy to win the lottery. No worries though, as Houston has made a living under Daryl Morey of finding talented players late in the lotto; say hi to Patrick Patterson.
While not many official mocks are being put out now, the guys at The Basketball Jones took their shot at it, and they have Kansas' Markieff Morris going to the Rockets at No. 14 overall:
14. Houston Rockets - Markieff Morris, ‘6'10" PF, Kansas
Between the Morris brothers, Markieff is the more aggressive one, especially on defense and when it comes to rebounding. He's limited offensively, but has steadily improved his perimeter shot. Where he'll make his mark with the Rockets will be on defense where he should be able to man-up against any post player and provide some help against other offensive players.
Either of the Morris twins would make a lot of sense for the Rockets, particularly if Houston thinks they have the bulk to slide inside. NBADraft.net has the Rockets taking Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State this week, and Draft Express has the Rockets landing Texas' Tristan Thompson, who might be a bit short and slender for an NBA power forward right now.
Four mock drafts, four different players. This is what happens when you try to start a mock before the draft slot is settled. The Rockets will almost undoubtedly be picking 14th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, but because of the 0.5% chance they won't, most of these projections as of right now are more "draft slot" projections than "team" projections. Obviously Houston would most like to land a big man but it's unknown if they'll be able to do that.
Jones is another solid prospect who could go a lot higher than this. The Rockets need to continue to build a base of talent, given the roster's uncertainty.
Oh c'mon Ziller! Not even a pithy shot about how the Rockets could corner the market on Kentucky forwards?
Here's who the other main mocks have going to the Rockets before the draft lottery is completed. They'll do the actual drawing on May 17th.
You'd have to think of all these picks, one of the Morris twins would make the most sense for the Rockets. If they don't rise higher in the draft, that is.
With the playoffs in full swing and Rocket’s management suffering a bit of a shake-up, now seems like the ideal time to turn our attention toward the 2011 NBA
Lockout Draft! And that means everyone’s favorite exercise in futility – mock drafts! As we still don’t know the draft order, we’re stuck speculating based on percentages and sheep entrails. You’ll see this reflected in this weeks SB Nation mock, which has the Rockets taking Oakland center Samson Satele Keith Benson.
Oh. Uh. Ok. Well he’s a center and we definitely need one of those. His senior year he averaged 17.9/10.1/3.6 (pt/reb/blk) a game, respectable numbers that made him the 21st most efficient player according to Hollinger. So there’s that. Unfortunately he’s no where to be found on Chad Ford’s top 20, nor on the wondiferous ESPN draftstravaganza machine (which still has us taking Faried). I vaguely recall him being touted as the most pro-ready player on a lively Oakland team that gave Texas a bit of a scare, but I don’t remember him being anything special.
Frankly he looks like Hasheem Thabeet on paper (13.6/10.8/4.2 for comparison), a player who is rumored to be a Houston Rocket. And since Benson had the gall to stay in college and earn a degree, he’s only a year younger than Thabeet. This pick stinks of “Houston needs a big man, hey this guy is big!” but this early in the process, that’s as good a guess as any.
I maintain that Morey has other plans in mind. “These are not the picks you are looking for.”
After last night's
barn burner insomnia cure of a NCAA title game (still more legitimate than football!), we turn our full attention to the NBA. Temporarily ignoring the fact that a lockout is practically guaranteed, the first set of mock drafts are beginning to trickle out and true to form they make no sense. The problem with early mock drafts - especially when the season has yet to end - is that no one seems to know enough about each team to make logical picks.
Case in point: ESPN published their annual "someone in IT learned flash and OH LOOK PICTURES!" lotto machine-come-mock draft and SB Nation contributed a mock of their own. Both have the Rockets taking Morehead State's Kenneth Faried. ESPN describes him as follows:
Faried is the best rebounder in this class and has a motor that doesn't stop. His offensive game is still a work-in-progress, but he finds ways to score. His lack of size and strength hurt his stock, but Faried's the type of player that's stuck in the league of late.
Wait, did someone just copy and paste Chuck Hayes's scouting report? You know what doesn't work over the course of a season? Playing Hayes at the five. You know what this pick doesn't address? Playing Hayes at the five.
I realize this draft is both short on talent and short physically, but even a cursory glance at the Rockets roster should make it apparent we have no need for another power forward, particularly a less-developed Jordan Hill. The Rockets biggest need is a center, of which there are no good ones this year. (If this were Battle Red Blog, I'd scream about trading down.)
There are approximately 50 moving parts leading up to a draft pick, and with Daryl Morey involved more like 1,500 parts. I haven't the slightest idea what the board will look like when we pick or even what our pick will be. But I am confident that pick will not be Kenneth Faried.
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