BY: RYAN ISEMEYER
Come June 28th, 2012 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, the Houston Rockets will be able to provide dreams, hope, and life long accomplishment to at least two young men who have shown their amazing basketball abilities through the output of College Basketball.
Many have claimed this NBA Draft to be the deepest since the Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony’s draft class. With so much talent available through the first 30 picks, these players could all be impact players to the 30 NBA teams throughout the league. Realistically we will be assessing that the Rockets do keep the 14th and 16th pick and that the magician himself (Daryl Morey) does not make any trades before the draft itself .
Many websites seem to be looking at solely the numbers that each college player possess, yet the lack of information regarding if the player will fit into the teams system and coaching profiles always dooms over our shoulders. Fear not as we will go in depth and try to work our “sports psychiatrics” along with the usual analytics that Morey loves so much.
At one point last season the Rockets had the 2nd,6th, 8th, 11th and 32nd pick in the 2009 draft along with the 14th pick from the 2010 and 2011 draft respectively. Most people would assume solely looking at this that the Rockets would be on their way to a Championship this year. The fact that Hasheem Thabeet, Johnny Flynn, Terrence Williams and Jordan Hill (who were all first rounders in the 2009 draft) were shipped off for picks and an aging Marcus Camby shows that draft hasn’t been accurate or as successful as it may have been in previous years. With the depth of this years draft I firmly believe that this year will change the opinion of those who have labeled the NBA draft as unresourceful and over analytical.
Jared Sullinger (Ohio State): The Rockets will likely take Sullinger as their 14th pick if Austin Rivers or Terrence Jones are no longer on the board. At 6’9 Sullinger plays the power forward position and he’s held honors such as the 2011 Big Ten tournament MVP and the 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Averaging 17.5 Points and 9 Rebounds a game along with shooting 52% from the field. Sullinger had a strong season last year and he continues to show his maturity and patience with the basketball. He is extremely skilled when it comes to his post offense which is a key to McHale’s offense. He is known for being able to have somewhat of a similar move to the “shanghai shake” that Yao Ming once possessed with his smooth turn around jumper. Set backs? Sullinger is average when it comes to using his physical force. He doesn’t cover ground quick around the perimeter and scouts have noted that he isn’t explosive to a point where his presence will be noted in the paint. Will he work with the Rockets? Yes. He has somewhat mimicked Luis Scola’s game and I believe that if the Rockets were to draft him as a power forward or an undersized center we would see Patrick Patterson go if Scola hasn’t been traded yet.
Austin Rivers (Duke): The Rockets will take this young man if he falls to the 14th pick. I personally think that Rivers stock is a bit high and that the reason for this is because of his name and the clutch shot that he took against North Carolina. Rivers averaged 16 points a game with 3 Rebounds and 2 assists, while shooting 37 percent behind the arc and 44 percent from the field. At 6’4 and being extremely athletic, this well seasoned ball handler has the ability to create space between himself and his defender. Problems that come along with Rivers is his inconsistent energy level and his penetration to aggressive players who had more energy then he had. It almost seems like he gave up. If Rivers wants to increase his stock many believe he will need to add muscle to his body as well as providing him with the tools he needs so that he can play the most rigorous of games and not be embarassed by player that may seem quicker or tougher than him. Will he fit in the Rockets System? No. I think he has a very Kevin Martin esque game in terms of playing one-sided basketball and being very one dimensional when it comes to defense. He would be a great asset to trade on if he were to fall to us, or maybe even a gamble that we could take. When In doubt, look at when Parsons was drafted.
Meyers Leonard (Illinois): This will be a question that the Rockets have probably been asking themselves these past few weeks. A true 7 footer who is averaging 14 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks a game. He is projected anywhere from the 15th-21st pick and the reason for this is because he lacks game with his back towards the basket. Although he is extremely athletic and has an impressive wingspan of 7 foot 3 inches, he lacks footwork but makes up for it with his shot blocking skills. The Rockets will likely take him as their 16th pick if Terrence Jones has been drafted. Is it a risk ? Yes. Look at 2009’s 2nd pick Hasheem “thabust” Thabeet. It is up to the front office to decide if the risk is worth it. Does he fit in our system? Only if he is molded in the right way. If McHale is still the coach and is willing to devote the right minutes to teach him his ways than why not?