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Houston Rockets 2016-17 Player Preview: Sam Dekker

Feb 29, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Houston Rockets forward Sam Dekker (7) stretches before game against the Milwaukee Bucks but did not play at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 29, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Houston Rockets forward Sam Dekker (7) stretches before game against the Milwaukee Bucks but did not play at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
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Feb 29, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Houston Rockets forward Sam Dekker (7) stretches before game against the Milwaukee Bucks but did not play at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Dekker launches SCS annual player profile previews.

As the 2016-17 season nears it’s time for Space City Scoop player profiles. To launch the series SCS looks at Houston Rockets’ second-year forward, Sam Dekker.

After helping the Wisconsin Badgers reach the NCAA championship, the Houston Rockets drafted Sam Dekker with the 18th overall pick in 2015.

Although Dekker was ready to make an impact in Houston, a back injury robbed him of his rookie season. A year later, Dekker is healthy and ready to play a valuable role in Houston’s system this season.

For fans who are not familiar with Dekker, take a moment to get to know the sophomore player. Despite not scoring a single point nor grabbing a rebound, the Rockets may still have a steal in their promising draft choice. After all, not every high school player can be named Wisconsin’s Mr. Basketball as a senior in high school. (2012)

Next: Accomplishments

Oct 7, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Sam Dekker (7) warms up before playing the Dallas Mavericks at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

2015-16 Accomplishments: 

Sam Dekker missed all but three games last season due to a back injury. In the three games, he played a total of six minutes. To gain a full understanding of a healthy Dekker, take his 2016 D-league stats, along with his 2016 Summer League stats.

2015-16 D-League Stats:

11.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists.

2016 Summer League Stats:

14.4 Points, 5.6 Rebounds, 2.4 Assists, 53.8% Field Goal Percent, 27.4 MPG

Next: Offensive Strengths

Apr 6, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Sam Dekker (15) drives against Duke Blue Devils guard Tyus Jones (5) in the second half in the 2015 NCAA Men

Offensive Strengths:

In selecting a player Sam Dekker could aspire to emulate and who has similar assets I’d pick Gordon Hayward. If Dekker could channel Hayward’s production and mirror his talents it would be a huge benefit to the Rockets. Among his skills set, Dekker’s size is one that every NBA team dreams of having on their team.

NBA ready body with great size:

With Donatas Motiejunas‘ career likely over in Houston, Dekker has the perfect body to replace him. Standing at 6’9 and weighing 219 pounds, his size will give the Rockets a reliable stretch four.

As a better shooting and defender than Motiejunas, Dekker’s skills set will give Mike D’Antoni a variety of options to utilize him in his system.

Offensive Versatility:

It’s no secret that Dekker can shoot the lights out. In fact, he may be the best shooter on the team this season.

During the Badgers’ championship run in 2015, Dekker shot 52.5 percent from the field and 41 percent from the perimeter. He ended his college career with one of the highest field goal percentages in school history, shooting 49 percent.

During the Rockets summer league season, Dekker’s shooting ability was on full display. Proving his college efficiency was no aberration he shot 53.8 percent from the field in Vegas.

While most analysts think of Dekker as only a shooter, his ability to get to the rim is overlooked. Dekker has a solid first step and can end with great explosiveness. He will soon let his opponents know that he is a scoring threat both inside and out. He is also great at pulling down offensive rebounds, which will give the Rockets additional offensive possessions this season.

Next: Defensive Strengths

Jan 22, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) talks with forward Sam Dekker (7) during the second half of the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Toyota Center. The Rockets defeat the Bucks 102-98. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Strengths:

Defensive Versatility:

With Dwight Howard gone, he left a huge void to fill on defense. However, Dekker could help fill the hole Superman left behind.

Dekker has the defensive components the Rockets are in need of on the defensive end. He is a great perimeter defender and is solid on the boards. His ability to defend is the most underrated area of his game.

What makes Dekker a solid defender is his ability to switch on ball screens, and contesting perimeter shots. Working in concert with Patrick Beverley I’m anxious to see how well the two can stop players on the defensive end.

In terms of rebounding Dekker seems to have mastered how to box out effectively. Furthermore, he can stay active around the boards, and is not afraid to put his body on the line.

Next: Areas to Improve

Oct 7, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Sam Dekker (7) shoots against Dallas Mavericks forward Maurice Daly Ndour (10) in the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

 Areas to Improve:

Free Throw Shooting:

From the field Sam Dekker can shoot the lights out, so it’s ironic he is unreliable from the line.

During his career at Wisconsin, Dekker shot 69.5 percent free the charity stripe. While a member of the Rockets’ summer league roster, he only shot 50 percent from the line.

If Dekker wants to stand out and gain more minutes, he must improve this area of his game.

Consistency:

Although Dekker can score, he has to become more consistent in order to succeed in the NBA. During his time in the D-League, there were games where Dekker would score 13 or more points. Then turn around and score 9 points or less the next game.

At times his shooting is inconsistent and is amplified by poor habits. To wit, often when open Dekker will take an additional dribble before shooting. Ultimately the over dribbling results in a tougher shot and leads to a missed basket.

If Dekker wants to see playing time this year, he must become more consistent in his play. if not, expect to see another season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

To improve in these 2 areas Dekker needs to develop good habits as both are fixable via repetitive fundamental actions.

Next: 2016-17 Expectations

Oct 28, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Sam Dekker (7) waves to the crowd before playing against the Denver Nuggets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

2016-17 Season Outlook:

Role Player Perspective:

In terms of what role Sam Dekker will assume on the roster the ball is in his hands, literally. Should he take strides with his consistency and show growth in his choices and habits he could earn consistent playing time. Dekker’s  high basketball IQ, work ethic and unselfishness bode well for his success.

More from Space City Scoop

Since Dekker is behind Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza on the depth chart he has time to develop. To that end, expect Dekker to spend time with the D-League especially early in the season. With the Rio Grande team he can learn the varsity team defensive sets and hone his craft.

Basically this will be a transition season for Dekker. Last year, the D-league was used for rehab. This year, Dekker can use the league to hone his skills to become a better player.

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Next: Houston Rockets Video Diary - Practice: Sam Dekker

As of now, let’s hope when he is on the floor for the Rockets, we will see the Sam Dekker that helped lead the Badgers to the Final Four two years ago.

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