Here’s a look at the Rockets’ minor league club …
– VIPERS SIT 5th OVERALL: Thirty-nine games into this season, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers sit at 22-17 overall, 6 games back of Los Angeles (26-10) for the top seed in the NBDL. Overall, the Vipers sit fifth. The top eight teams by win-loss record make the playoffs. The Vipers have been in a bit of a rut lately, going 3-7 in their last 10 games. Obviously having their top two threats Marcus Morris and Greg Smith up with the adult club now doesn’t help, so it can be assumed they’re in a bit of an adjustment period. Still, the eighth place team is 19-17 Erie, so with just 20+ games remaining this season, the Vipers are likely headed for the playoffs barring some unforeseen collapse, which would put them in line to make their third consecutive finals appearance.
– CARACTER DEBUTS FOR VIPERS: Former UTEP star Derrick Caracter, who was drafted by the Lakers with the 58th pick in the 2010 draft and played 41 games with them last season, made his Vipers debut last weekend after being waived by the Lakers last month. The 6-foot-9, 275-pound Caracter is averaging 8.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 14 minutes a game during his time with the Vipers so far. He’s shooting 46.7 percent from the floor. Keep in mind that he’s still working his way back from knee surgery he had last year. But he is undoubtedly the most intriguing prospect currently with the Vipers. Worth keeping an eye on, especially with Morris and Smith out of the loop for now. In fact, NBDL.com has him rated as the fifth most intriguing post talent in the league. Read about it here.
– OTHER PLAYERS OF NOTE: Former University of Houston guard Kelvin Lewis (14 ppg, 3.3 rpg) leads the team in total points and rebounds as he’s been one of the few mainstays this season for the Vipers. He’s played in all 39 games and has started 33. … Former Florida guard and NCAA champ Lee Humphrey has also played all 39 games. He’s shooting a blistering 44.3 percent from 3 (112-of-253) and is second on the team in total points. He’s averaging 11.9 points and 2.1 rebounds. …. … 6-foot-3 guard Ben Uzoh, a former New Jersey Net and most recently a Cleveland Cavalier this season, has done well for the Vipers in his 15 games, 13 of which are starts. He’s averaging 16.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists to go along with 1.53 steals. I can only assume his NBA days aren’t exactly over. … 6-foot-5 guard Jermaine Taylor, a former Rockets draft pick who was traded by the team last season before hooking up with the Kings and ending up in the Valley, is averaging 12 points on 41.2 percent shooting. He’s certainly a scorer, with 34 field goal attempts in 64 minutes as a Viper, but he does boast potential. Before latching on with the Vipers, the Clippers worked him out before deciding to go with veteran Bobby Simmons for their wing spot a few weeks ago.
– WHO’S GOT NEXT? The Vipers next host Texas on Monday at 7 p.m. That will be eight days between games, as they last played Saturday.