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The Houston Rockets have the fourteenth and twenty-third picks in the 2011 NBA Draft. As such, the team is a hot topic among draft experts given the vast number of routes Daryl Morey and his crew could take come draft day.
Currently, on my personal NBA mock draft, I've got the Rockets taking Tennessee forward Tobias Harris and youthful center Jeremy Tyler. At some point, I'll post my entire draft (or at least the first round) on the front page.
As for the experts? They have the Rockets taking the following players:
The Rockets traded away Shane Battier in February, and Morris wouldn't be a bad long-term replacement. His ability to stretch the floor and rebound, combined with a high basketball IQ, should be welcome in Houston.
Jonathan Givony, DraftExpress.com: Jordan Hamilton - SF, Texas
Tom Ziller, SB Nation: Tobias Harris - F, Tennessee
Chad Ford recently gave Harris a bar of gold we like to call the "Shane Battier comparison." It's maybe the best draft boost a player can get these days. Why? Everyone wants a Battier, yet no one knows where to find one. Brains, capacity for knowledge and composure are the most difficult things to measure when a prospect is posting up a chair. It's only a matter of time until GMs start breaking out Risk! during player workouts.
Chad Ford: Reggie Jackson - PG, Boston College
Jonathan Givony: Darius Morris - PG, Michigan
NBADraft.net: Josh Selby - PG, Kansas
Tom Ziller: Jeremy Tyler - C
Funny how Mr. Ziller and I made the same picks. No, we didn't call each other to match. I can only suppose that great minds think alike...
Anyway, though I'm intrigued by the comparison, I don't see Tobias Harris fitting the mold of Battier just yet, especially given the underlying, non-statistical advantages that Battier can bring to any team. Then again, in that sense, it's difficult to compare anybody to Battier.
Having said that, I'm becoming a bigger fan of Harris the more I read and watch. As I've said before: when selecting at fourteen, there is little chance that any player available will have "star" upside. By this account, it makes all the more sense to take a refined, NBA-ready player. Patrick Patterson fit this bill last season. This year, that player could be Harris.
This is the first time I've seen someone mock Selby to Houston at twenty-three. I'm actually a big fan of the pick. The Rockets have no immediate need at point guard, and for any team to rush Selby into a semi-prominent role right away would be risky. If the Kansas point guard was on the board at twenty-three, the Rockets would be hard-pressed to pass on him. With a nice push from the coaching staff and some patient development, Selby could turn out to be the best point guard in this draft, Kyrie Iriving included. It's a reach, sure, but it's possible.
If the Rockets don't choose to take a chance on a point guard with their second pick, they could take an even bigger chance with Tyler. The dude is LONG and athletic. He's the biggest question mark of anyone on the board, but the Rockets could see him as a risk worth taking given the limited upside of many big men in this draft class. I've written that trading up to take Bismack Biyombo wouldn't be necessary, but if the Rockets could snag Tyler in the twenties (a reach, but a necessary reach), I'd have zero complaints.
What do you guys think?
UPDATE: Ford is now mocking Jordan Hamilton to Houston at fourteen. Sayeth Chad:
Hamilton was another player who really impressed in Chicago. His size and ability to shoot the basketball combined with his aggressive scoring instincts should fit well in Houston. Since trading away Shane Battier, small forward has been a need.