Today marks 6 weeks until the NBA draft, in which the Rockets will have 2 first round picks. Over the last couple weeks, I've previewed a few of the prospects the Rockets should target; today we take a look at the Rockets draft history. I'm going to focus primarily on their recent history, but here is a quick look at some of their earlier drafts.
Notable 1st Round Picks Pre-1998
1967 - Pat Riley (7th Overall)
1968 - Elvin Hayes (1st Overall)
1970 - Rudy Tomjanovich (2nd Overall)
1976 - John Lucas (1st Overall from Atlanta)
1983 - Ralph Sampson (1st Overall)
1983 - Rodney McCray (3rd Overall
1984 - Akeem Olajuwon (1st Overall)
1992 - Robert Horry (11th Overall)
1993 - Sam Cassell (24th Overall)
1st Round (14th Overall) - Michael Dickerson
1st Round (16th Overall) - Bryce Drew
1st Round (18th Overall) - Mirsad Turkcan
2nd Round (41st Overall) - Cuttino Mobley
Passed on Rashard Lewis 3 times! The trio they drafted started a total of 55 games for the Rockets; Lewis averaged 18 points and 6 rebounds between 2001 and 2007 with Seattle. They did nail their 2nd round pick with Cuttino Mobley who was a pretty good player over 6 seasons with the Rockets.
1st Round (22nd Overall) - Kenny Thomas
Thomas averaged 10 points and 6 rebounds over 3 1/2 seasons with the Rockets. Not bad value for the late 1st round, but should have done better.
1st Round (15th Overall) - Joel Przybilla (traded to Milwaukee for Jason Collier)
2nd Round (38th Overall) - Eduardo Najera (traded to Dallas for Dan Langhi)
Technically got two decent players, guys that were good bench role players for several years; but traded both for guys who did nothing. The guy they wanted didn't work out, Collier averaged 3.5 points and 2.4 rebounds over 3 seasons with Houston.
1st Round (13th Overall) - Richard Jefferson (traded to New Jersey for Eddie Griffin)
1st Round (18th Overall) - Jason Collins (traded to New Jersey for Eddie Griffin)
1st Round (23rd Overall) - Brandon Armstrong (traded to New Jersey for Eddie Griffin)
Traded 3 players, including a guy who has averaged 15 points and 5 rebounds per game for his career, for a bust who averaged 9 points, 6 rebounds, and shot 38% in two seasons with Houston. Fail.
1st Round (1st Overall) - Yao Ming
1st Round (15th Overall) - Bostjan Nachbar
Homerun, especially when you consider a lot of fans and media pundits wanted them to draft guard Jay Williams from Duke.
No 1st Round Picks
No 1st Round Picks
1st Round (24th Overall) - Luther Head
Never a great player, but was a good role player for several seasons, which is all you expect out of most late 1st round picks.
1st Round (8th Overall) - Rudy Gay (traded to Memphis for Shane Battier)
2nd Round (32nd Overall - Steve Novak
No doubt fans would rather have Rudy Gay right now, but at the time I thought the trade made sense. The Rockets had their two stars in place for a deep playoff run, they needed the hard-nosed defender, they needed the glue guy. Things didn't work out with Yao and T-Mac getting injured several times, but hindsight is always 20/20 right? Also, it was well known at the time that the Rockets never wanted Rudy Gay, if they had kept the pick for themselves, they would have taken Thabo Sefolosha.
1st Round (26th Overall) - Aaron Brooks
2nd Round (31st Overall) - Carl Landry
Seemed like an odd pick at the time since they didn't have a pressing need at point guard, but Brooks played pretty well as a Rocket. It looked like the Rockets had one of the best steals of the draft when in his 3rd season (09-10) he averaged 19 points, 5 assists, and shot 40% from the 3-point line on his way to the Most Improved Player Award. However, a year later, talk over a new contract seemed to get in his head, his numbers dropped off (11 ppg, 28% 3-point line), and he was traded at the deadline to make room for Kyle Lowry as the starter. While his time here was short and it didn't end well, he was still was a key figure in the Rockets only playoff series win since the 1996-1997 season.
Similar to Brooks, Landry wasn't here very long but was a productive player as a Rocket. If this draft was done over, Landry would go at least in the top 25 overall, maybe even top 20.
1st Round (25th Overall) - Nicolas Batum (traded to Portland)
The Rockets used Batum to acquire fellow draft pick Donte Green from Syracuse, who was then traded to Sacramento for Ron Artest. Donte Green turned into nothing, so the trade overall was a plus. In 4 NBA seasons, Batum has averaged 10 points, 4 rebounds, and has shot 46%. He would have been a solid player for the Rockets, but I'd still do the trade over again.
No 1st Round Picks
2nd Round (32nd Overall) - Jermaine Taylor
2nd Round (44th Overall) - Chase Budinger
1st Round (14th Overall) - Patrick Patterson
The jury is still out on Patterson, but he needs to take a big step next season in his 3rd year in the league. Patterson has shown to be a good defender, have a reliable 10-15 foot jump shot, but goes through stretches where he seems to lose his confidence and his game drops off dramatically. If he figures out the mental side of the game, I think it'll prove to be a good pick, but that's a big "if".
1st Round (14th Overall) - Marcus Morris
1st Round (23rd Overall) - Nikola Mirotic (traded for Donatas Motiejunas)
2nd Round (38th Overall) - Chandler Parsons
Big swing and a miss so far on Marcus Morris and most of us predicted that at the time of the pick. The Rockets already had Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson on the roster, and they drafted another power forward? Some will say they thought Morris could play the 3 at the NBA level, but that thought is even dumber than drafting a 3rd power forward in the lottery. Later in the 1st round they picked up a European power forward (who plays more on the perimeter like a SF, similar to Andrei Bargnani), who spent last season in Europe due to the NBA lockout. Scouts seem to like Motiejunas, I'm optimistic on his potential.
The best pick by the Rockets was in the 2nd round with Chandler Parsons from Florida. Parsons still has a lot of work to do on his offensive game, but he's a solid defender and looks like he's capable of being a key role player for the next decade. If we were to re-do the draft, Parsons would be a 1st round pick.
As much as some fans complain about Daryl Morey, look at the track record of their previous general manager. CD is/was a likeable guy, but he did a horrible job; how did he get his "number" retired? Definitely more misses than hits on this list, big part of why they only have 1 playoff series win since the 1996-1997 season.