Royce White has an imposing 6'8", 270 lb. frame and the court vision and rebounding ability of Lebron James as a rookie (no joke). Some would say his court vision and ball handling rival that of most point guard prospects. That alone makes him a much more than intriguing prospect. Throw in a budding offensive game, which includes a moderately good post game and a jump shot with fantastic shooting mechanics (3P and FT need work but that's easy to fix), and his ability as a serviceable defender and you have a top five talent. He's not the smoothest athlete, but his basketball IQ more than makes up for that deficiency. His ability to be in the right place at the right time is one of his greatest strengths. He rarely has to over-correct because he doesn't make many mistakes on defense. His 95.2 defensive rating (10th in the Big 12) is evidence of this. I should also mention that White led his team in scoring (13.4 ppg; 52% FG), rebounding (9.6 rpg; 17.1%), blocks (1.2 bpg), steals (1.2 spg) and assists (4.5 apg). He was 2nd in the Big 12 in RPG and 2nd in assist percentage (34.5%). This guy has a pure point guard's game in Lebron James' body. All this begs the question: Why the hell is this guy projected to be a late first round, early second round pick? More after the jump.
The answer to this question has everything to do with an anxiety disorder White developed when he was 10 years old. Having both a mother and a sister with chronic anxiety disorders, I have a pretty decent idea of how serious White's condition is. Anxiety disorders are not a thing to be scoffed at as some personal label of weakness. It's a debilitating illness that affects the everyday lives of those afflicted by it. Were the Rockets to draft Royce White, they would have to be comfortable knowing that the best case scenario for White, might be the worst case scenario for the Rockets, and the best case scenario for the Rockets, might be the worst for White. Vague language, I know. Let me explain.
I can assure all of you that White's therapist is not trying to help Royce overcome his anxiety just so he can play basketball and take team flights without worry. Anxiety disorders run much deeper than that. White is trying to figure out how to live without worrying about the implications of every decision he makes, small or large. That includes everyday decisions you and I might take for granted. The decision to have cereal in the morning might carry as much weight as his decision to go to Iowa State instead of Kentucky or Baylor. All this to say that it might come to a point (and I think this would happen sooner rather than later) that White might come to the conclusion that the healthiest possible decision for his life would be to give up playing the game of basketball. If the Rockets aren't comfortable with that possibility, they shouldn't draft him.
Keeping all of this in mind is the proper perspective to have when evaluating White's basketball talent. Drafting White might not work out at all. He might not even play a game with the Rockets, and the draft pick would be completely wasted. It's a very real possibility. My mother gave up being a doctor, making six figures a year, to become a potter, making nothing, because it was better for her overall mental health. On the other hand, think about what a Royce White could mean to this team if he were to get to a point where his anxiety disorder was of little consequence.
White's condition is very serious. However, his top five talent is undeniable, and if the Rockets can get him, I think they should. This is a franchise that has been completely stagnant the last three years (adding one win a year doesn't count as improvement). It's time to take a massive risk on someone like Royce White, who could be a star or a complete bust.
Agree? Disagree? What's everyone's thoughts on Royce? I'm really interested to hear how you guys feel about him.