Courtney Fortson has shown to be a scrappy, hard-working player in his brief time with the Rockets so far.
BY: KYLE ADAMS
If you have tuned into the Rockets’ last four games, you might have noticed a diminutive guy with the Chris Johnson-like dreads coming off the bench in place of Goran Dragic.
With Kyle Lowry out with a bacterial infection for at least a couple more weeks, and the Rockets buying out Derek Fisher’s contract after he was involved in the Jordan Hill trade with the Lakers last week, the Rockets had a glaring hole at the backup point guard position.
In steps Courtney Fortson: 23-years old, standing at 5-foot-11 (maybe) and 185 pounds (also a maybe), out of the University of Arkansas, where he recorded the school’s second ever triple double with 20 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in a December 2008 win over North Carolina Central University. In a total of 47 games played in two seasons at the college level, he averaged 16 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and a steal.
He went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, most likely because of his size, but played well in the D-League with the Reno Bighorns and the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
This year with the D-Fenders, he played in 29 games, averaging 17 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. He also has worked on his shot since leaving Arkansas and joining the D-Fenders, shooting 40 percent from the arc, with an overall shooting percentage of 48 percent. He’s a scoring dynamo.
Fortson was called up by the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan.16 and signed to a 10-day contract. He was released after four games.
The Rockets signed him to a 10-day contract from the D-Fenders after buying out Fisher’s contract. He got thrown to the Wolves in his first game with the Rockets against his former team, the Clippers. With no practice time and no idea how to run the offense, he only played a minute, picking up two turnovers while wearing a jersey that was even without his name on the back.
However, he has picked it up since then, gradually improving in each game since that inauspicious debut in the silver and read.
In 6 minutes against the Phoenix Suns, he had three rebounds and two assists. On Tuesday against the Lakers, he scored his first bucket as a Rocket when he stole the ball and turned it into an easy two points at the other end.
On Thursday against Golden State, he finally got a shot to show what he can do, scoring 12 points in 18 minutes, displaying his heralded athleticism with his ability to get to the hole and finish.
If Fortson is to stick around, they need him to play like he did against Golden State every night. Already, Dragic’s consistent high minutes is a concern, and the Rockets have tinkered with different ways to initiate offense, whether it’s Courtney Lee handling the point in a pinch or Luis Scola serving as a point forward time and having action played off him.
Fortson owns a lot of quickness and can run down balls that a lot of players can’t get to. He needs to calm down and learn to play with pace, but he’s energetic and frenetic, much like this Rockets squad.
While he doesn’t own Dragic’s ability to make plays for others, Fortson is a nice scorer. Learning behind Dragic, who plays a similar, all-out style, can only behoove the youngster.
Fortson might not be a big guy, but with the way he plays, you can tell he has a big heart. Time will only tell if he sticks around on the Rockets, or even in the NBA.
But if he keeps up the hard work and gets more comfortable within the job description of a point guard, he has a real shot of keeping a big league job.