Oct 19, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (35) reacts after a play during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Pelicans 120-100. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Despite Montrezl Harrell seeing limited playing time and Sam Dekker barely touching the court all season, the Rockets have two young players that show lots of promise for the future.
The Houston Rockets had the 18th and 32nd overall picks in last year’s NBA draft, and selected combo forward Sam Dekker from Wisconsin University and Louisville University‘s power forward Montrezl Harrell respectively. While Dekker spent the large majority of the year recovering from major back surgery (he logged six minutes all season and accrued no stats), Harrell got to see a good bit of minutes for a second rounder’s first year in the league.
Due to JB Bickerstaff‘s infamously inconsistent roster rotations and the plethora of players at the power forward slot, Harrell was not able to establish much of a consistent role other than a go-to during garbage minutes. However, he was able to make the most of his rookie year and showed that he’s got what it takes to make it in today’s NBA.
Next: The Rookies' Regular Seasons
Oct 15, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (35) tries to pass out the ball to forward Sam Dekker (7) against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
2015-2016 Regular Season
Harrell’s per-36 minute averages: 13.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 blocks
Montrezl Harrell saw the court in 39 games this past season and got to start once, but was primarily used as a space filler during situations where the game was already decided. He was bounced back and forth throughout the course of the season between the Rockets and their D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
When he did touch the court, Harrell made sure to put forth 100% effort, usually igniting a too-little-too-late comeback when the Rockets were down big late in the game. His size, strength, and lengthy build compare well with the likes of Kenneth Faried. Both big men run the floor well, are rebounding monsters, and provide their teams with energy on the defensive end. If Harrell continues to improve like he did over the course of this past season, he can solidify himself as a quality rotation player for the Rockets next season.
Sam Dekker saw just six minutes of action all season due to surgery, but is 100% cleared and ready to go for the summer league and then training camp.
NOW Officially 100% cleared 100% healthy with zero restrictions. Even though Ive being hooping the past month, it still feels great to hear
— Sam Dekker (@dekker) May 23, 2016
Next: No Love for Harrell in Playoffs
Oct 30, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (35) dribbles the ball as Golden State Warriors center Marreese Speights (5) defends during the first half at Toyota Center. The Warriors won 112-92. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Montrezl Harrell played a total of 11 minutes and took 3 shots during the Rockets’ embarrassing loss to the Warriors.
It’s no secret that the Rockets didn’t put up much of a fight against the Golden State Warriors during the playoffs this year. James Harden solely won them one game, but other than that it was ugly from start to finish. Bickerstaff did not let Harrell play at all during the first three games of the series, and only played him during the last five minutes or so during the 27- and 33-point losses to finish out the putrid series.
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For what it’s worth, Harrell did not play too well during his brief appearances, shooting 1-3 and being ineffective on the glass and on defense. It’s hard to accurately assess the power forward’s performance in the playoffs due to the circumstances in which he saw the court, but it’s safe to say that none of Houston’s players played well during the entirety of that series.
Sam Dekker did not see any court time during the playoffs due to his back surgery.
Next: The New Guys' Best Moments
Feb 6, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (35) dunks against the Portland Trail Blazers in the second half at Toyota Center. Portland won 96 to 79. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Harrell didn’t play many minutes this season, but he made sure to get his fair share of dunks and other highlight plays.
One of the best things about Montrezl is that he’s a freak athlete. He can jump with the best of them and his huge wingspan allows him to make plays that his peers cannot. One of the highlights of the entire season for the Rockets was this ridiculous alley-oop from fellow youngster, KJ McDaniels.
Harrell has all the makings of a defensive star, and he shows he isn’t afraid to challenge the best of them with this block on Dwayne Wade.
Harrell might not be quite ready for primetime NBA action, but he’s more than capable of having huge games, as shown by his 31 point, 6 block performance in a Vipers game this season.
Sam Dekker didn’t log any stats in the regular season, but he showed he can get up and throw it down during the preseason with this alley-oop.
Next: The Rookies' Future
Nov 16, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk (41) and Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (35) reach for a loose ball in the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Both Dekker and Harrell are signed with the Rockets for at least two more years, making them two of the few players who have a guaranteed spot on the roster next season.
Before this past season started, Harrell sighed a 3-year contract worth $3.1 million and Dekker signed a 4-year deal worth $8 million. After this turbulent season, there aren’t many players who have a secure spot in Houston next year. Even contracted players like Corey Brewer will be potential trade pieces this summer. However, because neither Harrell nor Dekker have had enough court time to cause issues and neither of them are costing the team much money, they both will almost assuredly be returning next season in Rockets uniforms.
If Harrell can get bigger and stronger and hone his finesse moves, and if Dekker can come in and prove himself to be able to keep up and shoot well in a real NBA game, the Houston Rockets will have two players that will compliment Harden well and be able to contribute on a nightly basis. Much is yet to be told about the careers of Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker, but both of them have shown the potential to be great contributors in the NBA.
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