The Rockets lost a close game to the Pistons (89-95, but it was close until the last couple of posessions) today and saw Kentavius Caldwell-Pope score 26 points. I'm just going to throw out some random thoughts / observations in no particular order:
First, Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington did not play. I assume that the coaches weren't really interested in what they can do, they are pretty much known commodities at this point. They'll get play later in the tournament, there are a lot of games to go.
In other people-who-didn't-play news, Donatas Motiejunas was spotted on the sidelines (he's not on the roster) - probably getting some extra practice in with the summer league squad or with the coaches. That's a good sign, building familiarity with your coaches is never a bad idea and every minute of extra work he gets is a good thing. He also looks pretty bulky, let's hope that's muscle and not fat.
Now to the players:
The big highlight of the game was a truly nasty left-handed slam that Nick Johnson threw down over Tim Olbrecht (used to play for the Vipers and got signed to the Rockets at the end of the season in 2013, I think). Overall, Nick Johnson was the best player on the floor for the Rockets, and the announcers kept discussing how he was the Rockets' best defensive player. He's going to have trouble due to his size against real NBA competition, but he finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, only 1 foul, and 3 turnovers (one of which was in the last few seconds during desperation time). From what I could see today, he's going to be a player that will get into the rotation right away due to his ability to play defense and play intelligent basketball. He's basically the prototypical bench energy guy.
Other Rockets that played well were Chris Crawford, another SG who scored 20 points on 13 shots. I didn't see him really stand out much, but he just kept making shots. We'll see what happens with him.
Tariq Black had 12 points on 5-9 shooting and 7 rebounds in 22 minutes. He's a prototypical bruising power forward with a ton of muscle and energy and not enough height. He's a guy that has a long career ahead of him, but not necessarily in the NBA due to his lack of size. Think Michael Harris or Jeff Adrien. Again, he's a guy that could end up on the D-league roster and eventually on an NBA squad if he shows enough skill, but if not he'll have somewhere to play in Europe for sure.
Maarty Leunen (2nd round draft pick from way back in '08) plays a kind of Matt Bonner role, as a big slow power forward with deadly 3-point skills. He looked pretty mediocre to me, but the shooting (3-5 from 3) was there. We'll see if he learns how to play smart enough to compete on defense against NBA athleticism.
Chris Kramer is a defensive and passing point guard who got 7 assists and only 3 points but was in the game at the end due to his D skills. This is another player who could end up somewhere in the NBA if he plays smart ball because he can contribute right away on defense. Another good sign: only 1 TO for those 7 assists.
Those were the only guys that stood out to me in the first game as potentially making it to the Rockets down the road. Hopefully we get to see some more of the experienced guys in Canaan and Covington, and hopefully Capela figures out his s**t with FIBA so he can play in summer league.