Great contribution from the fanposts. -Patrick
If you ask anyone to describe Houston Rocket's 2012 #16 pick Royce White, you're bound to hear the words "unique" and "intriguing" pop up, and sometimes, that's all you'll hear. At 6'8" 260lb with a 7' wingspan and a pair of massive 11.5'' across hands, Royce White is build to NBA specification. In an impressive one year campaign, he led Iowa State Cyclones in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, and was the only Division one player in the nation to do so. He's been compared to a random collection of players ranging from the likes of Luke Walton, Boris Diaw, to Larmar Odom, even Lebron James. A player with natural talent, impressive feat and lofty comparisons (Luke Walton aside), and the best word that we can find to describe him is "Unique"?
Unique is not bad, but unique is not great either. In NBA coach speak, unique and intriguing are often code for "I am not sure how to use him." Boris Diaw was unique. Lamar Odom was unique. Tyrus Thomas was intriguing. Anthony Randolph was intriguing, Anthony Randolph is still nothing but intriguing. Used correctly, an unique player can be an ultimate disruptor to defense, an effective weapon, otherwise he's either a Bobcat or never see the light of day on some bench.
The Houston Rockets have just a laughable amount of forwards currently on roster. I'm sure all of them has parts of their game that is unique only to them, but most of them you can also fit comfortably into a traditional NBA position as well. Chandler Parsons is 6-10 and defends whoever we want him to defend, but he's a 3 through and through. Patrick Patterson may be a physical double of Al Horford, but asking him to play center is asking a lot. Terrence Jones is versatile, but Terrence Jones also does what a small forward and power forward does. He rebounds, he slashes, he take open jump shots. There's no one quite like Royce White, a power forward that was both the primary distributor and a low post threat on his team. That was college, this is the NBA. However exceptional at ball handling and passing Royce white is, he cannot be the de facto point man and have the ball in his hand at all times, so how do we maximize his unique talent on floor give him the chance to succeed?
Here's just a few things that I've came up with on highlight that exemplifies the best ways to use Royce White on offense.
Couple basic thing other players should do that benefits everyone, but better with Royce White
It's a simple concept, and every Basketball coach loves to drill this fact into young players' head: Run and good things will happen. (Just make sure it's the right way, don't be this guy). Royce White is an excellent rebounder with his giant hands and wide body, but on top of that, he is an exceptional and willing passer. Royce White will run and Royce will definitely run a break.
#2 Space the floor with shooters
Usually there are 2 reasons to space the floor, you either do it to give you low post player room to operate, or you do it to keep the lanes open for guards. Both reasons applies to utilizing Royce White on isolation. Royce White is not explosively fast, but he does have good handles for a forwards and a deceptive pace that allows him to drive to the basket, add that to his vision and passing, he become a huge weapon. By spacing the floor with shooters and allowing Royce White lane to drive from the perimeter, you create chances for a high percentage play like an open 3 pointers or lay ups
Similar thing are needed when you running low post isolation with Royce White. White has a big body, and he uses his weight to his advantage on the low post. If you keep the extra defenders off of him, he has a lot of nifty spin and drop steps along with his low center of gravity bully dribble that get him to the rim for short range shots, dunks and lay up. If he draws double team he has the vision to find the open players. This is probably an ideal way isolate Royce White, with his back to the basket.
Here's an example of Royce White operating with his back to the basket, both scoring and passing.
This might be a problem. The Rockets, as currently constructed lacks the consistent 3 point shooters of the past, relying on a combination of Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, Toney Douglas, and Shuan Livingston at the guard spot as well as Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones, and Marcus Morris at the forward spot, With the exception of Kevin Martin, none has the reputation of a consistent 3 point threat yet.
#3 Cut to the basket
Generally speaking, off ball movement is important, but specifically, having players continually cutting to the basket while having a passer like Royce White working either on high post or low post can pay big dividend .
Plays that Royce White might find success in the NBA
We've yet to see this tested against seasoned NBA players, but Royce White's combination of size, ball handling, and low post skills wrecks havoc on match ups, therefore isolation is a big part of his success. The areas Royce White should probably get the ball iso on the NBA floor are 2 places: top of the key and the low blocks.
Royce White is right handed, and he primarily finish with that hand. Chances are with his preference for spinning to face the basket, he would be working the left low block. The fact that he can play post effectively trumps everything else. Like I mention already, Royce White is a big guy with 260 lb, low center of gravity and a wide body, some of the Charles Barkley comparison is warranted. When he wants to push you around, he will push you around. With the wide body, his spins and drop steps creates huge space for him. A lot of time he just simply power through with his body and dunk it home, and if a double team come, he will find the open player. If there is a pass to be made he will make it.
Fred Hoiberg literally used Royce White as a point guard on offense for about 1/4 of the time at ISU, allowing him to basically operate outside of the 3 point line looking to drive and dish. On the one hand, it pulls the big players to the perimeter because teams cannot risk having their guards matched up on White, thus allowing Royce White to simply drive by them, but it also give the opposition the choice to dare him to take the long jump shot, which is not a forte, and takes an able rebounder like him away from the basket for offensive boards. Operating off the top of the key still allows Royce White to drive, but a closer threat of White in the paint should also help give Royce White better options other than settling for a long jump shot.
That last play is something White must learn to do consistently if he really wants to succeed in the NBA. Despite all his talents, he does not have a respectable jump shot, and in order for him to operate efficiently from the high post, he must become better with his jump shot. We forget White was actually away from basketball for a year before transferring to Iowa State, which contributed to his poorer conditioning and some stiffness in his overall game. His jump shot mechanics at least looks sound, with some consistent work put into it, I believe it can improve.
Simply allowing Royce White to bring the ball up court
Obviously this is dependent on situation, but with a shortage of point guards on roster currently, Royce White provides an interesting option at initiating offense. He's very quick to read and react, allowing him to probe and attack defenses before they are set. There is a reason Fred Hoiberg trusted him enough as to use as a primary play maker and it shows in his games. However, it is unlikely that Royce Whit will be successful running a half court set in the NBA facing faster and longer forwards, so he won't be able to handle the ball as much as he did as a Cyclone.
High Screen an Roll
An old Adelman Favorite, and I think it's time to bring it back. When we lost Chuck Hayes, we also lost some of the easy baskets that Hayes creates with his high basketball IQ, primarily off the high post screen and roll. Royce White might be the 6'8" athletic Chuck Hayes I've always wanted in that perspective. He's creative, strong, and loves to pass, He would just feast on assist numbers throwing passes to back door passers and cutters down the lane, and with his wide body he creates lane effectively.
Here's a similar play where White is not the screener, rather he's the replacement. He gets the ball at the elbow and fires a bullet pass to the roller. Unfortunately the roller couldn't catch the pass, but you see White's skills can work in a high screen and roll.
Give and Go
Utilizing both his wide body and and passing ability, give and go with a guard is a play that can really highlight Royce's physical stature and feel for the game. The beauty of this play is that as chemistry improve, the better the play will be. Here, he is on a give and go with Jeremy Lamb
In the same vein, guard has been very successful with hand off and screens utilizing Royce White's big body to create space for themselves. Because White is a willing passer and able rebounder, guards will get the ball back open or with a nice lane to the basket, and if the jumphot doesn't fall, White is usually rolling to the basket for offensive rebounds.
These are just some of my thought about how Royce White should be used on offense, based off nothing but his highlight films and his draft profiles, so it probably skews a lot toward his strength. His limitations are quite obvious, He's not an above the rim player, he's a bit small for the 4, and he does not have a jump shot. His turnovers in college are a bit worrisome, but that's also partially due to relying on him so much on creativity and passing. It's not a coincidence that a lot of these footage highlights his passing. Other worries from summer league is that Royce White might be too willing a passer, and wants to be point forward so much that he would drift toward the perimeter and put his big body and rebounding edge to waste.
Personally, I think we should really test out his skills in the lowpost. Jumpshots are not his forte, he might as well make the opposition have to guard him in the low post. He's got the body type to succeed as an undersized power forward and the foot work and agility to match. McHale's advice of just go out and focus on rebounds before the Kings game also really helped the rest of his game to come together. Most important thing is that he should get as much touches as possible. It's a tough thing to ask for with a young team where everyone is looking for touches, but for Royce White, I think more touches for him means more touches for everyone. I'm only a casual fan, the NBA coaches wannabes out there probably can think of something more complex for Royce White's game.
I apologize for the poor video qualities, the videos were cut and edited from youtube videos and re-uploaded, so the qualities are crap at best.