Underrated Signing? – Houston Rockets Sign Tarik Black

By Brett David Roberts

Mar 23, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Tarik Black (25) lays the ball up as he collides with Stanford Cardinal center Stefan Nastic (4) during the second half in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men

The Houston Rockets signed Tarik Black to a two-year partially guaranteed deal on Wednesday afternoon.

Black is a 6’8” forward who spent 13 games last season with the Rockets’ D-league affiliate.  He averaged 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game as a senior at Kansas; but he was undrafted, mostly due to the underwhelming statistics.

At the L.A. Clippers mini-combine prior to the 2014 draft, Black scored 13 points and grabbed nine boards while hitting all six of his field goals.  He impressed GMs around the league with his athleticism and dunking ability, and he’s a physical big man that will help a lot with interior defense and rebounding in the second unit.

While he is a bit undersized for a 4-man, Jeff Adrien is as well.  Daryl Morey has shown little reluctance in acquiring smaller power forwards, and he took a gamble two seasons ago when he dealt productive starter Patrick Patterson and spare parts to acquire Thomas Robinson from the Sacramento Kings (the trade also brought Francisco Garcia, if that helps console Rockets fans any).

Black’s outstanding play in Los Angeles was needed to give him a chance at an NBA future.  His jumpshot is going to need some work to help space the floor, but he’ll have time to develop that.  His defensive prowess and toughness will be his greatest assets this year, and the Rockets may have pulled an under the radar signing that ends up paying big dividends.

So, while the rest of the league yawned at this news, Morey is likely licking his chops behind closed doors with the thought that the rest of the league is going to regret sleeping on a guy who failed to impress at the NCAA level.