For the 3rd straight season, the Houston Rockets have landed in the lottery’s last position. There was plenty of good to take from last season, from Kyle Lowry having another great season (until an injury sidelined him), to the play of last year’s 2nd round pick, Chandler Parsons. With the #14 and #16 picks in this draft, the Rockets have the ability to fill in some of the gaps and possibly make that leap back into the playoffs. Let’s look at some of the possible draft scenarios facing Houston.:
2011-2012 Record – 34-32 (4th in Southwest Division, Western Conference)
Head Coach – Kevin McHale
2-year Draft History
2011 – Marcus Morris (1st Round – 14th), Nikola Mirotic (1st Round – 23rd – Traded to Minnesota with Brad Miller, the 38th pick in 2011 and future 1st round pick for Jonny Flynn, the rights to 20th pick Donatas Motiejunas and a 2012 2nd round pick), Chandler Parsons (2nd Round – 38th – reacquired from Minnesota for cash considerations)
2010 – Patrick Patterson (1st Round – 14th)
Returning Players- Kevin Martin (SG), Luis Scola (PF), Samuel Dalembert (C – Team Option), Kyle Lowry (PG), Courtney Lee (SG – Qualifying Offer), Patrick Patterson (PF – Team Option), Marcus Morris (PF), Chase Budinger (SF – Team Option), Chandler Parsons (SF), Greg Smith (C – Team Option), Courtney Fortson (PG – Team Option), Diamon Simpson (SF – Team Option)
Possible Key Additions- Donatas Motiejunas (SF)
Team Needs- Backcourt depth, Rebounding/Post players, Scorers who attack the basket
Position Needs –PG, SG, C
Picks – #14 (1st Round, Pick 14)
#16 (1st Round, Pick 16 – from New York)
NBA Draft Blog Analysis
With back-up point guard Goran Dragic likely to be popular in free agency, as well as the likelihood that Courtney Lee will not be made a Qualifying Offer, the Rockets have the opportunity to address their backcourt with either, or both, of their first round picks. As I’ve discussed throughout these previews, there are only 2 point guards whose draft value falls within the 2nd half of the lottery – Kendall Marshall and Damian Lillard. There is a strong possibility that neither will be available here, so if one of them happens to fall here, the Rockets may look to take him. Another possibility they may want to consider is Austin Rivers, if he is available. Rivers will more than replace whatever Lee brought to the team, and he could also play some point guard, if needed. But again, there is a good chance Rivers won’t be available by the 14th pick, so where could the Rockets turn?
The Rockets could look to fill the hole at the center position with either Tyler Zeller or Meyers Leonard. With the Bucks possibly also looking to go big at #12, the Rockets may need to settle for the player the Bucks don’t take, though that wouldn’t be bad. Zeller is the more polished player, effective on both ends of the floor, and runs the floor better than any big man in this class. He may not get much better than he is now, but he will still be a great addition in the middle for Houston. Leonard is also skilled, though he is still developing, and is athletic for his size as well. While his ceiling may be higher than Zeller’s, there is no guarantee that he will get there. Also, inconsistency and lack of effort plagued him during his 2 years of college, though he has worked hard during this pre-draft period. If somehow both players are available at #14 or #16, I think Zeller is the better option because of the “known” ability and level of play he brings.
If the Rockets go for a big at #14, they could still look for a wing scorer at #16. Terrence Ross would be a better scoring option at small forward than anyone they currently have, as well as giving some added defense on the perimeter. The big problem is that Ross has trouble creating his own scoring opportunities, so he would be reliant on the team finding ways to get him the ball where he can score.
Of course, there is always the possibility that the Rockets trade either, or both, of their picks, and of course rumors are already out there. If more comes out of these rumors, I will come back and address them here.
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