With the 2010 NBA Draft a mere 77 hours or so away now, it's almost time to for us to find out what Dr. Morey's evil scheme is to improve the roster. Everyone, including myself, has some theory about Houston either trading up, trading down or just flat out trading the pick for something big. But with everyone throwing their mock drafts out there right now, I figured we had better take a look at a few of the guys that are likely on the Rockets radar. Almost everyone assumes that Houston will be looking for a legit Center to back up Yao/provide Yao insurance, so I am going to target them in this post. If time allows, I will look at some wing players tomorrow or Wednesday. So, let's get started after the jump...
DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky: I was going to avoid this one all together, as he will be long gone before 14, but since Houston and Minnesota keep being paired in trade rumors I figured I'd take a look. Most reports are saying that New Jersey is going to select Derrick Favors out of Georgia Tech. Therefore, with John Wall and Evan Turner going 1-2, If Houston swings a deal to trade up to the 4th pick which belongs to the T'Wolves one would have to believe they would be doing so to pick the big man out of Kentucky.
Cousins stands 6'11" and weighs in at 270 lbs. Just looking at his statistics won't blow you away, but he has plenty of abilities that justify him as a top 5 pick. He has a great ability to get to the free throw line and he averaged almost ten boards per game. He has an excellent touch and a pretty decent midrange shot. His footwork is terrific and his game is suited for a half court offense. The primary concern amongst most teams is that he isn't fat, but he has fat potential. At 16% body fat, it's a valid concern. His work ethic is said to be good, but who knows what can happen after a young guy signs that first big contract.
Epke Udoh, C, Baylor: I've never been the one to say a pro team should take the hometown kid. Technically, he's from Oklahoma, but he played at Baylor and that isn't like people around here get with the UT guys. But Baylor is familiar enough.
However, Udoh would be an excellent addition in my opinion. 6'10", 240 lbs with a wingspan of almost 7 and a half. I'd really like it if he was a bit taller to be honest, but he makes up for it with his athletic jumping and shot blocking ability. He swatted about 4 shots per game to go with 9.8 rebounds per last season. His mid-range jumper is decent and he shoots almost 70% from the charity stripe. Not bad for a guy of his size. His age is the one thing that concerns me. At 23, you always have concerns about a big mans knees. Especially if the team asks him to add some weight to his frame, which would probably be done.
Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas: Time to dive into Grungedave's favorite big man on the board.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of Aldrich. He may be good at the pro level, he may not. But to me he just looks to have one of those bodies that's going to just break down at the pro level and he'll just never be healthy. And, no, just for the record it has nothing to do with him being a white dude. Which is something I was accused of over on Rocket Dunks. But anyways, let's see how he would fit with Houston.
He stands 6'11" and is 250 lbs. His basketball IQ is said to be very high and he is a very good ball handler for a big guy. He was a much better shot blocker than I thought averaging 3.5 per game to go with 9.8 rebounds. He's very active around the rim and he'll get you some offensive boards and easy put backs. On paper, he looks like the perfect back up for Yao. But let's be honest, I don't see any way that Indiana or Utah passes on him...and they both pick before Houston. So breathe easy, grungedave.
Greg Monroe, C, Georgetown: This is another one that will be long gone before 14 and would have to be included in a trade up scenario. But let's let Daryl worry about that and see how Monroe would look in Rockets red.
He measured in at 6'11", 247 lbs with a 7'2" wingspan. Like Cousins, his numbers aren't exploding of the stat sheet. But the guys skill level is top notch. He has excellent hands and he is a very unselfish player. His passing skills are possibly the highest rated of any big man in the draft and in Rick Adelman's offensive system, that seems like a fit. His defense needs improvement and he is guilty of turning the ball over quite a bit. But these are all things that are coachable. I'd like the pick, depending on what had to be given up to trade up and take him.
Larry Sanders, PF/C, VCU: Sanders is kind of intriguing if Houston stays at pick #14.
His measurements are almost identical to DeMarcus Cousins, but he weighs a lot less at 222 lbs. His post game is solid and he is an above average scorer. Attending Virgina Commonwealth doesn't have him too much on the national radar right now, but he has the tools and talent to justify being taken at 14th. If he adds about 20 more pounds or so, he could be a force in the paint. He comes with that word we all love so much...Upside.
Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall: This is the name that most Rockets fans have gotten to know the most lately. Some absolutely love him, others not so much. I like him a whole hell of a lot and would be extremely content with him at number 14, but let's see what he could bring to Houston.
Whiteside is just a shade under seven feet at 6'11.5" but has joked with the media that he would wear two pairs of socks to get to seven feet if it's needed. After leading the NCAA in blocked shots (5.4 per game) and being named Conference USA's freshmen of the year and defensive player of the year his freshmen season, he decided to enter the draft after only one year at Marshall. He is currently 235 pounds but has the frame to add another 15 or so if it's required of him. He is very quick for his size and is an explosive leaper. He can hit the 12-15 foot jumper and has a decent hook shot to go along with an above average ability to get to the free throw line. He really looks, on paper, like Marcus Camby with a jump shot. But he could just as easily be another Stromile Swift.
At first, it was a maybe if he would be available at 14 for Houston. But his stock has slid after workouts and the combine for some reason. I've seen him in mock drafts this week as high as 12th and as low as 23rd. As is expected with a player as young and as raw as him. This is my personal pick if Houston stays at 14 and you can read my much longer breakdown of him on Rocket Dunks.
So, there you have it. My analysis of six big men that I could see Houston targeting in the first round this Thursday night. No one is certain what Daryl Morey is going to do and even as early as this morning, he has said there is only a 50% chance Houston stays at pick #14. Be that it's traded away or used to move up, take that for what it's worth. Regardless, Thursday night is must see TV for any Rockets fan. Let's hope something exciting happens so Tom has a memorable trip to Madison Square Garden this week.
But, what do you guys think? Have a preference of the guys listed above? Or do you want a different Center/Power Forward all together? Fire away in the comments below...