The Rockets, who were wheeling and dealing players for picks, used each and every pick they acquired in the 2012 NBA Draft.
While most fans were hoping for a franchise changing trade, the Rockets instead drafted shooting guard Jeremy Lamb with the 12th pick, followed by combo forwards Royce White and Terrence Jones with the 16th and 18th picks on Thursday night.
While all three have loads of potential, the general consensus was the team remained mediocre; after rumors stirred that the Rockets were in the hunt for Dwight Howard.
For Rockets fans the team is in an interesting situation. While the NBA Draft is used to acquire some of the best college basketball players in the world, the Rockets were looking for an established superstar instead. After all three picks were announced; fans realized that the Rockets used the draft for its original purpose.
“They’re trying to do something that very few teams try to do in the NBA, which is stay pretty good, and then go from pretty good to great,” Jeff Van Gundy said. “A lot of team’s tank to get high lottery picks, Houston is trying to do it different, and I applaud them for it.”
Fans weren’t the only disappointed ones; head coach Kevin McHale acknowledged the fact that an established superstar would have been just what the team needed.
“There were a lot of things in the hopper,” McHale told the Houston Chronicle. “There were a lot of different things we were looking at. Ideally, it would have been nice to pull off a trade that would have helped the team immediately.”
Jeremy Lamb averaged 17.7 points for Connecticut, giving the Rockets a shooting guard for the future. This pick makes Kevin Martin even more expendable, as Courtney Lee is a restricted free agent and will likely be back for the Rockets. Martin has an expiring contract that should help alleviate the challenges of moving him elsewhere.
Lamb has work to do in the gym, and must focus on improving his defensive game to be successful in the NBA.
Royce White might the most intriguing player in this year’s draft. White struggles with an anxiety disorder, and has a sketchy past which he openly admits.
Though these problems exist, White knows he’s defeated them and feels like the Rockets sent him a strong signal of confidence by drafting him with the 16th pick.
“I’m just happy the Houston Rockets took me when they didn’t have to,” White admitted. “I do have a lot of red flags in my history that could have kept me out of that 16th spot or out of the first round in general. I’m glad they took that chance on me.”
The uniqueness in Royce’s game is his passing ability. For a combo forward, Royce has great court vision, and above average speed at the position. The Rockets are stockpiled with forwards, but given the time, Royce may be the one to break free from the pack.
The forward frenzy continued as the Rockets decided they could not pass up on sophomore Terrence Jones, a 6’9 forward who averaged 12.5 points, and 7 rebounds per game. Jones has a 7-2 wingspan, and brings a unique blend of athleticism and versatility to the court.
The Rockets claim they will keep all three rookies, but history has shown that the front office will not be afraid to pull the trigger if a trade that involves a star is on the table. The main thing to remember here is the Rockets drafted three versatile players who can be packaged in various combinations.
If the Rockets are still pursuing a superstar, which they are, then you can be sure these young guys will be involved.
The team is log jammed at the forward position, while the same can’t be said at center. They currently don’t have a center, and while Marcus Camby has vowed to return, he is 38 years old. Camby’s minutes will be limited, making it imperative for the team to fill a desperate need. The Rockets have now been rumored to be interested in restricted free agent Omer Asik, who they have pursued in the past.
Owner Les Alexander is not disappointed in how the night turned out, and wants to make it clear that the team is not sitting still, but instead evolving into a real contender.
“The emphasis is always to try to be as great as we can every year,” Alexander said. “It doesn’t change. It’s not like this year my thoughts are any different than any other year – zero difference.”
Alexander also came to the defense of Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who many believe is on the hot seat.
“I think Daryl (Morey, Rockets general manager) has done a terrific job,” Alexander said. “Why would I want to change? I’m always getting that question for some reason. They expect him to get LeBron James tomorrow. That’s not happening.”
While Morey is respected by many across the city, fans are growing impatient with the small fish acquisitions, and are ready for Morey to hook a big fish. Morey has made valiant efforts ever since accepting the job as Rockets GM, but as each rumor passes, reality bites the dust.
Alexander was very pleased with the players that were acquired, but finished his comments by acknowledging the team needed a superstar to succeed.
“We still can be players in free agency, too,” Alexander said. “We’ll do something in free agency.”