December 12, 2012; Fresno, CA, USA; Colorado Buffaloes guard Spencer Dinwiddle (25) gathers teammates after a foul call against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the second half at the Save Mart Center. The Buffaloes defeated the Bulldogs 50-43. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
By Forrest Walker, Space City Scoop Contributor
The NBA finals just ended, and like every year, the draft is looming large. In just a few days, all thirty teams (give or take a few who traded away their picks) will meet up in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to find the next, brightest hope for their future. Well, the teams at the front of the lottery are hoping for hope.
The solid playoffs teams, the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors of the world? They’re gunning for a big trade first, and a useful rotation player second. The Rockets are among the most likely teams to forgo or trade away their draft picks in some unexpected transaction, but let’s assume that they don’t.
Perhaps second round picks really are that undervalued, and Houston keeps theirs. Let’s look at some players the Rockets might target with the 42nd pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Wing depth has been a sore spot for Houston ever since James Harden came to town, with both the shooting guard and small forward positions woefully undermanned past the starting lineup. If the Rockets want to find a young, long player with piles of potential to fit in at the three spot, they’ve got to be hoping for Thanasis Antetkounmpo to stay on the board. Grant is big enough to play the four in a pinch, has a 7’3” wingspan and scores at the rim. He’s got the potential to grow into a lockdown defender, a glaring need at the wing for Houston. His shot isn’t particularly good, but many players have successfully improved their shot with some work. He may not ever be a knock-down three point shooter, but the hope is that he grows into a lockdown defender, and if he learns to knock down the long ball, even better. Giannis’ brother would make a great addition to Houston’s bench, no matter what deals go down.
With Omer Asik having been jettisoned to New Orleans, adding a backup center now becomes imperative, but the candidates are few.
If Houston prefers a risky move, there’s a shiny new shooting guard who fits in exactly with what they do: Spencer Dinwiddle. He was the primary ball handler in college, but is extremely likely to fall into an off guard role in the NBA, a role he has all the skills for. He’s a highly proficient slasher, a decent enough shooter, a great free throw shooter, and at 6’6” he’s got size to spare at the two guard. His pick and roll prowess and free-throw drawing tendencies make him an ideal backup for James Harden, especially in Houston’s pile of combo guards.
Dinwiddle could come in for any guard and hold his own without disrupting the system. The caveat here is that he suffered an ACL tear in January of this year, leading to questions about his availability and athleticism. He’s an excellent player, and this is the main factor pushing him far enough down that Houston might have a shot at him. Morey has a habit of finding second round gems, and a Dinwiddle represents a high-risk, high-reward scenario that Houston has the flexibility to deal with.
That being said, the moment the world expects Houston to stand pat and draft for need is the moment that the Rockets announce a blockbuster trade. With players like Kevin Love floating around, anything could happen on Thursday. Houston might end up with no picks at all, or even a move up into the rarefied air of the lottery, just to keep us guessing. But if the most unexpected event comes to pass, and nothing unexpected comes to pass? Houston has some solid prospects.