Jan 29, 2017; Queens, NY, USA; Xavier Musketeers guard Edmond Sumner (4) drives past St. John’s Red Storm forward Tariq Owens (11) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
With the Rockets picking 43rd and 45th, the list of draft candidates is fairly low.
Even though all the big name prospects will be drafted by the time the Rockets get to pick, there are still some players that the team should avoid. These players mostly consist of bad fits that would benefit being elsewhere. The D’Antoni and Morey system is not for everyone, so the players the Rockets draft must fit in or the team should avoid drafting them. Let’s first look at a particular guard from Xavier.
Edmond Sumner – Xavier
Multiple red lights exist when looking at the fit of Sumner with the Houston Rockets. The first is his style of play. The point guard cannot shoot from hardly anywhere on the court. This fact can be seen with his low field goal percentages when shooting. He shot 27% from 3-point land last season, a bad sign for his shooting in the NBA. His free throw percentage was 74% last year, a career high. As a point guard, that number needs to improve if he wants to make it. One encouraging sign was his overall field goal percentage. Since he does not shoot many 3-pointers a game, he finished with a field goal percentage of 48%. He has a knack for finishing above and under the rim and is a solid attacker.
Another red light for him is his season-ending injury from this January. Unfortunately for the point guard, he tore his ACL and missed the remainder of the season. The Rockets do not need to be drafting a potential injury-prone player who does not fit with their system. Edmond Sumner may find success with a team that values his skill set, but that team should not be the Rockets.
Next: Thomas Bryant
Thomas Bryant – Indiana
Mar 10, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Indiana Hoosiers center Thomas Bryant (31) holds the ball against the Wisconsin Badgers in the first half during the Big Ten Conference Tournament at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Bryant is an interesting prospect, but one that the Rockets may look to avoid. This center is 6-10 and has a decent offensive game. During his brief two-year stint with Indiana, he shot nearly 60% percent from the field and averaged around 12 points a game. He even shot the 3-pointer and free throws fairly decently, 37% and 72% respectively. However, he has some attributes that the Rockets may find undesirable.
If the Rockets were to draft another center, one of their most loaded positions last year, they would want one that can rebound well. Unfortunately, Thomas Bryant was not a great rebounder in his Indiana career. He averaged 6.2 per game as the starting center for the team. While he improved his sophomore year in his rebounding, that is likely due to the extra minutes he played. Also, even though he shot the three well he only took 75 in his two years for an average of 1.1 per game. It may have been best for the young center to spend another year or two at Indiana. The Rockets do not have time or space to grow another prospect center, so Thomas Bryant is likely someone they will avoid.
Also, even though he shot the three well he only took 75 in his two years for an average of 1.1 per game. It may have been best for the young center to spend another year or two at Indiana. The Rockets do not have time or space to grow another prospect center, so Thomas Bryant is likely someone they will avoid.
Next: Dwayne Bacon
Dwayne Bacon – Florida State
Mar 18, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Dwayne Bacon (4) reacts during the second half against the Xavier Musketeers in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Though Bacon has a great name, he is likely someone who the Rockets should not draft. He has some of the attributes that the team is looking for, but ultimately probably should be avoided. He is a good defensive player and chunks up a lot of threes, but his shooting leaves much to be desired. Bacon shot over 5 threes per game during his Florida State career, even getting close to 7 per game last season. Even though he shot them, his 3-point percentage was still 31% in his two years. He is also undersized at the small forward position at 6’6 but does have a long wingspan of 6’10.
Dwayne Bacon is an interesting prospect for the second round of the draft. He still showed great potential during his two years at Florida State and was a scoring machine there. His rebounding numbers left something to be desired at 4.2 his last year, but with his wingspan, that may improve eventually. Bacon is the one player on this list that would possibly fit on the Rockets team, but they might want to look at other options first.
Next: George De Paula
George De Paula – International
George De Paula will be an interesting point guard prospect for some team, but hopefully not the Houston Rockets. He is projected to be this year’s Mr. Irrelevant by DraftExpress, so hopefully, the Rockets find someone better with their mid-40s picks. De Paula is an athletic and raw prospect with good potential. There is also not much known about the young player. Playing in Paulistano last season, he put up averages of 10.8 points and 4.2 assists and rebounds per game. He has great size for a point guard, 6’6 with a 7′ (!!!) wingspan. There is much potential surrounding the player and that may just get him drafted.
While a team will surely give the Brazilian a shot, the Rockets should definitely stay away. De Paula may have the athleticism to play in the D’Antoni offense, but his shooting is far from it. He shot just 33% from three and a measly 40% from two last season for Paulistano. While his passing ability is pretty good and he takes care of the ball well, his shooting is just not developed enough to take a shot on him. Even though the Rockets will likely not draft him, still keep an eye out for George De Paula.
Next: Vlatko Cancar
Vlatko Cancar – International
— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) June 16, 2017
The last prospect on this list is Slovenian center Vlatko Cancar. Like many second-round international players, he is fairly unheard of and has potential to be a great player. He just brings nothing to the table that the Rockets would want. Cancar shoots abysmally from the 3-point line, around 27% in two of the leagues that he played in last season. However, he has the potential to shoot well as he put up threes at a 40% mark during his third league of the 2016-2017 season. He also fouls a ton. Like…a ton. He averaged 3.6 fouls per game in just 18.6 minutes a game in one of his leagues. Per 40 minutes, that translates into a crazy 7.7 fouls per game. That number certainly needs to be improved for him to be a player in the NBA.
Like most of the other players on this list, Vlatko Cancar’s poor shooting is ultimately the main factor of why the Rockets should not draft him. Unless Morey is looking to store some players overseas for cap space purposes, international prospects are probably not the best path for Houston.
As with anyone’s lists of NBA prospects, I could also just be completely wrong with these assessments. These players could turn out to be solid professionals and the Rockets maybe should have picked them. But that is the fun with the NBA Draft, you never truly know what will happen.
*Sources: Draft Express Mock Draft and Sports-Reference*