Rockets first-round rookie Sam Dekker is in a spot familiar to rookies under head coach Kevin McHale: glued to the bench, practicing hard and waiting for his opportunity. I recently spoke to him over at Dime about the experience of being a Rockets rookie, and he's taking it as well as can be expected.
He's only played six minutes in two games and has yet to attempt a shot. Montrezl Harrell, who was picked in the second round, has leaped ahead of him because of his easily-definable skill set and the void at power forward. But Dekker, who's been listed anywhere from 6'7 to 6'9, anticipates seeing time as a small-ball four, which he calls "definitely a transition. You know, instead of being the one to be screened for, I'm the guy setting the screen, and defensively, instead of guarding guys, I'm banging in the post."
He also called Trevor Ariza, who's of similar size and currently starting at the four, a "role model" and singled him out (along with Jason Terry) as one of the veterans who's been most welcoming him. It was clear from talking to him that Dekker is committed to endearing himself to his team and finding a place, even if it doesn't come with the minutes.
When the D-League starts up, it wouldn't be a shock to see Dekker spend some time down there, if only because the logjam on the wing means that not even K.J. McDaniels, with his shiny new contract, can get any playing time. Marcus Thornton's hot start has seen to that. It goes without saying that he'd prefer to stay with the big boys, but acknowledged, "If they send me down for a little bit, and it's a chance for me to get better and play more, then so be it, I'll do that happily."
Dekker's versatility is what drew GM Daryl Morey to him in the first place, but it's his attitude that will keep him popular with Rockets fans until his time comes on the court. Dekker sees himself as ready to contribute, but even if he's just a towel-waver, he's going to do that with gusto.