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Houston Rockets: How 18th and 32nd Draft Picks Have Performed Since 2000

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By now I’m sure most Houston Rockets fans know who Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell are. For those who don’t know, they are the Rockets’ most recent draft picks. In the 2015 NBA Draft, Houston took Dekker in the 1st round with the 18th overall pick out of the University of Wisconsin and Montrezl Harrell with the 32nd overall pick out of the University of Louisville.

I didn’t want to do your basic rookie preview so I decided, “What better way to determine Harrell’s and Dekker’s futures than looking into their pasts and the draft slots at which they were picked?” I’m sure there are much better ways, but like I’ve always said, past actions are great indicators for the future. I also didn’t want to have to go all the way back to the Dr. Naismith peach baskets era – plutonium isn’t cheap.

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That also means that 1985’s 18th overall selection Joe Dumars is out (sorry, Detroit Pistons fans). I decided that using the period between the 2000 draft and present day was a good sample size. That’s 15 picks for both slots and it gives us a solid base in which to see what Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell are up against in terms of success.

I took a very basic approach to the topic, breaking down each player selected by career PPG, years in the league and games played (playoffs not included). I also threw in awards and championship rings won. Why wouldn’t I? It seems to be the only achievement sports fans recognize as the mark of true greatness. That’s why Robert Horry is largely considered the greatest player from the ’90s and 2000s era (I’m kidding).

I’m sure there is some other, more analytical way to approach this and some glaring stat I missed that proves that Gabe Pruitt was a vital part of the Celtics’ 2008 title run, although I doubt it. Just like any other NBA draft pick, there is no way of truly knowing if one will pan out or not. So let’s take a look at the 18th and 32nd overall picks in the last 15 NBA drafts and see if Dekker and Harrell stack up to the competition.

The 18th overall pick:

Sam Dekker, out of Wisconsin, was taken here by the Rockets. Coincidentally, this particular spot has also produced two current Rockets players: Terrence Jones in 2012 and Ty Lawson in 2009 (drafted by Denver), so it will be nice for Sam to have guys to talk with about being the 18th overall pick. Both Jones and Lawson are expected to be a big part of Houston’s plans this season as they pursue a title.

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  • The ceiling of this pick had a few contenders for the spot. Nikola Vucevic, a fourth-year man for Orlando, is the only one who currently averages a career double-double at 13.6 PPG and 10.0 RPG.

    If he can stay on this path and continue to put up double-double numbers, no question he would become the ceiling for the pick. Center JaVale McGee was considered… actually no, he wasn’t. The only thing he leads at is appearances on Shaqtin’ a Fool.

    The ceiling for the the 18th pick goes to David West. Not only is West a two-time All-Star, he is the all-time leading scorer in New Orleans Pelicans history, for now anyway (Anthony Davis could change that).

    West averaged 15.5 PPG and 7.2 RPG, and he has played 12 seasons and counting. This season he figures to be a key role player for the San Antonio Spurs. If I told Rockets fans that Sam Dekker would put up 15 points per game, you would be ecstatic.

    For every David West ceiling, though, there is the awful basement floor that was Curtis Borchardt. The seven-footer out of Stanford averaged only 3.1 PPG and only appeared in 88 games over two seasons. Borchardt had no real competition for this floor award, so to speak. Luckily for guys like Tyler Ennis and Shane Larkin, it is too early to tell if they can out-floor Borchardt.

    If Sam Dekker decides he wants to meet them in the middle and become the quintessential average 18th overall pick, all he would have to do is average 9.1 PPG, play in the league for 6.5 seasons, play in 390.2 career games (roughly 60 a season), untie the shoes of a player or two like 2013 Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith did, and participate in some form of the NBA All-Star Weekend.

    Events like the dunk contest have seen 18th overall guys Gerald Green, Marco Belinelli, and Quentin Richardson compete.

    The 32nd Overall pick:

    It’s obvious that first-round picks have a greater track record of panning out than second round picks, but that doesn’t mean Harrell doesn’t have a real chance of breaking this trend.

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  • He is a high-energy athlete who can rebound and finish strong at the rim, and he also saves people from burning buildings. That being said, it should be an absolute certainty that Harrell is nowhere near the floor of the 32nd pick.

    There were a lot of viable candidates for this ‘award’ including 2004 pick Peter John Ramos, who averaged 1.8 PPG and played in six games. You could put draft stashes Tomas Satoransky or Alex Abrines here but how many times has a draft stash came over to have a productive career? (The answer is ‘plenty’.)

    The floor award goes to former Seattle SuperSonic Walter Sharpe, whose 1.0 PPG and eight-game stint with the Sonics makes Robert Swift look like Wilt Chamberlain. Since I miss the SuperSonics so much and think they deserve their own team (which is another topic for another day), I’m going to mention that I should have pushed back the years to 20 so I could talk about the king of 32nd overall picks, former Seattle SuperSonic Rashard Lewis. But I said I wouldn’t do that, so back to the topic at hand.

    This pick has a low average PPG of 3.54 and guys are out of the league in under three years. There have been a few success stories at pick 32, whether they are Steve Novak, who has managed to play for nine seasons in the NBA, or Dexter Pittman who was a part (a very small part) of the 2012 Miami Heat championship team. How can we forget fellow teammate K.J. McDaniels, who averaged 7.9 PPG last season, tops among this slot.

    The ceiling Montrezl Harrell is looking to remodel, though, is that of Luke Walton. It was an obvious choice to say the least. Luke played for 10 years averaging 4.1 points a game, and not only did he win two NBA championships, he actually played meaningful minutes for his Lakers teams. Harrell has a real chance here to become the top dog of the 32nd pick class as the ceiling is probably lower than his 6’8″ frame.

    Well, there you have it folks – the recent history (sort of) of the 18th and 32nd NBA draft picks. As well as a Walter Sharpe reference. I can all but guarantee you didn’t expect to read anything about Sharpe today or possibly the rest of your life. But that’s what I’m here for.

    Make sure you comment down below and let me know what you think of Harrell and Dekker, or if you just want to talk more about the dominance that was Oleksiy Pecherov, I’m ok with that as well. Until next time, Junkies.

    Next: Harrell Inks 3-Year Deal

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