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Analyzing Houston Rockets 37th pick of 2016 NBA Draft: Chinanu Onuaku

Jan 23, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Louisville Cardinals center Chinanu Onuaku (32) reacts to a referee against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second half at McCamish Pavilion. Louisville defeated Georgia Tech 75-71. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 23, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Louisville Cardinals center Chinanu Onuaku (32) reacts to a referee against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second half at McCamish Pavilion. Louisville defeated Georgia Tech 75-71. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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On a very eventful Draft Night bursting with trades the Houston Rockets remained a mere spectator and couldn’t move up or strike any deals but still managed to select an intriguing prospect in Chinanu Onuaku.

After nearly 4 hours of waiting and an unexpected lack of movement Red Nation finally heard the name of center Chinanu Onuaku out of Louisville.

Specifics

  • Height: 6’10″
  • Weight: 245 lbs
  • Country: USA
  • Position: Power Forward/Center
  • Age: 19
  • Standing Reach: 9’1.5″
  • Wingspan: 7’2.5″
  • College or Pro League: Louisville
  • Stat line: 31 Games, 9.9 Points Per Game, 8.5 Rebounds Per Game, 2.0 Blocks Per Game, 0.8 Steals Per Game, 62.0 FG%, 59 FT%

The Fit

The 6’10” center was ranked in many mock drafts at positions ranging from 30-40 for the most part was likely selected by the Rockets due to his defensive skills. A minor health issue regarding his heart might have played a part in his stock to dropping for a while as well.

Chinanu Onuaku says he needs a “minor” heart procedure before continuing the pursuit of his NBA dream. https://t.co/7zPcglbnS4

— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) May 17, 2016

A still raw talent in the offensive aspects of the game, the bulky player could be a somewhat nice addition to the Rockets coming off the bench playing backup to Clint Capela.

This is the second consecutive time the Rockets choose a big man from Louisville after taking Montrezl Harrel with their 32nd position last year.

Even if Onuaku isn’t a very explosive player he compensates for it by being fairly mobile and quick off his feet has huge lengthy arms.

According to Jay Bilas his rim protection skills are one of the keys for him to succeed in the league:

Bilas on Onuaku on Tue: “His ability to protect the rim was key because his arms are so long. He’s got quick feet and he’s a good finisher.”

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) June 24, 2016

And with the Rockets notably trying to strike a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers just a couple hours before Draft Night began to get Nerlens Noel, the news that the Texan team drafted a strong framed rebounder doesn’t come as a complete surprise.

The 19-year old will likely spend a lot of time in the D-league this year developing his offensive skill set, specifically in terms of learning how to create his own shots. But to be fair he does already possess some interesting talents, notably setting screens and working the pick-and-roll.

More from Space City Scoop

Onuaku is not a very strong minded player with a low basketball IQ and has a very big problem with turning the ball over, so he might have to work seriously on that before playing in the NBA whether in the Summer League or the D-League.

With the Rockets set to have their first experience with Mike D’Antoni it remains to be seen how the coaching staff and GM Daryl Morey are looking to shape the team’s roster but so far if this Thursday is any indication of what’s ahead, then the name of the game is defense as Rockets keep looking for shot-blockers and players with a strong presence in the paint.

Don’t expect any fireworks for now,  but the new Rocket is incredibly young at only 19. However with the right development and guidance Onuaku could become a nice role player in the next couple years.

For a more complete and thorough profile please check out Daniel Zepeda’s Onuaku Draft Prospect!

Next: Draft Prospect: Chinanu Onuaku

Also check out the initial news of the draft pick and the Editor’s Mock Draft:

Next: SCS Editor 2016 NBA MockDraft?

Next: With the 43rd pick the Rockets select Zhou Qi

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