Despite the overall successful season for the 2014-15 Houston Rockets, the Rockets have some gaping roster holes to fill in the offseason. The biggest question mark on the depth chart is obviously the point guard spot. On the top of his summer shopping wish list, Daryl Morey has point guards galore.
Patrick Beverley (when healthy) is a nice option, but he is ideally a rotation player providing a spark off the bench and playing around 25 minutes. While a trade involving Ty Lawson, Kyle Lowry, or other mid-tiered floor generals is certainly plausible and probably the best case scenario, adding at least one point guard through the draft is the most likely.
First things first, let me set this straight: I am not a college basketball expert. I am not a professional recruiter, player evaluator, or analyst. I'm just a basketball fan who watched about 25 or 30 college basketball games last year and like any other person with a soul, I enjoy the occasional Hoop Mixtape or Ball is Life video.
The Rockets possess the 18th and 32nd picks in the draft with many chips to move if Morey wants to move up. If his eyes are set on a player like Devin Booker, the Kentucky sharpshooter, he could package the two picks and maybe a player if necessary (Papanikolaou?) to move up to Utah's 12 spot.
For the sake of this post, let's just say the draft is tomorrow and the Rockets are staying put at their draft positions. The high profile point guards (D'Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Cameron Payne) have been taken, leaving the second tier of Jerian Grant, Tyus Jones, Delon Wright, and Andrew Harrison.
Tyus Jones, Duke
Jones, the 19 year old freshman, had an amazing March in which he showcased his shot-making ability, fearlessness, and leadership. Jones' strengths include his NBA-ready body, decision-making, and shooting stroke.
His tournament performance was incredible, as he earned the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player award. He scored 23 points in the championship game against Wisconsin. He scores from everywhere on the floor, from the rack to behind the arc and occasionally in between.
With a 6'0, 190 pound frame,he physically compares to Chris Paul and Mike Conley according to some scouts. Jones shot 38% from the college three point line. Jones is a streaky shooter, but where he is most effective is off the dribble. He is extremely efficient in the pick and roll, which wouldn't be his primary role if the Rockets drafted him.
Oh, and did I mention that he takes and makes big shots?
Jones is a playmaker for his teammates and can get off his own shots in pick and roll situations. If he can improve his stand-still shooting (preferably from the corners), he's exactly what the Rockets could ask for in a point guard. He is the safe pick for the Rockets, with little risk or huge upside. Jones will be a nice player in the NBA, but I doubt he will be and All-Star. The Rockets would be thrilled if he drops down to their 32nd pick.
Draft Grade: B+
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Jerian Grant, the 22 year old first team All-American, is an explosive point guard with elite offensive potential. The Notre Dame senior averaged nearly 17 points, 7 assists, and 2 steals last year.
At 6'3, 198 pounds, he has fantastic size for his position. He has all the physical tools to be a successful point guard in the Association, but where his game lacks most is his outside shooting. He shot 32% from behind the college arc as a senior, but if there's anything we have learned from Marcus Smart in Boston, it's that you can teach shooting.
Unlike Smart, whose jumper is unorthodox, Grant's release is actually quite smooth and quick, as evidenced by this shot from the top of the key at his pre-draft workout. The textbook follow-through on this shot is perfect, but he obviously doesn't do that every time in a game.
The Rockets philosophy has always been to add talent, athleticism, and length. Jerian Grant has all that and if he improves his three-point shooting, he has a chance to be a special player.
Grant is a fantastic point guard with clear big-play ability, but he does most of his damage with the ball in his hands. The Rockets need a ball handler who can create offense for himself (check), but doesn't dominate the ball because James Harden needs the rock. It would also be nice to have a point guard who can shoot off the catch, and that's where Grant struggles.
There's a thin line between ball-hogging and shot-creating and I'm not sure which side of the line Jerian Grant wants to stand on in the NBA.
Delon Wright, Utah
Wright is a cross between Jeremy Lin and Tony Allen, so he is basically 15 percent of Russell Westbrook... at least that's what the eye test results tell me. Wright is more athletic than Lin, and a better finisher, but his jump shot is streaky and sometimes nonexistent, like the "First Team All-Defense" captain.
Delon Wright is a pure point guard, as evidenced by his impressive assist/turnover ratio of 5:2 and lack of willingness to shoot at times. Also, he is oversized for his position at 6'6, so he is physically a tweener, but that is the direction the NBA is heading (look at MCW).
Despite his shortcomings with his shot, Wright was actually a more than effective college player, supplementing his 15 points per game with 5 assists and 5 rebounds. While he is labeled as a "crafty" scorer, that won't translate to the NBA once the game becomes more physical inside.
The brother of NBA journeyman Dorell Wright's strengths are the same as Patrick Beverley's in the sense of defense and intensity. He was an excellent on-ball defender at Utah, earning himself the nickname, "Sticky."
The Utah senior will enter the league a viable defensive player, but not much else. He will likely be available at the 32nd spot in the draft, but the Rockets probably won't pull the trigger on him because they would basically have two Patrick Beverleys on the team then.
Draft Grade: B-
Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
Editor's Note: I initially confused Andrew and Aaron Harrison by accident in this breakdown. There was a video with Aaron's clutch performances that has since been removed. I have also fixed the description so that it completely applies to Andrew, not his brother. Sorry for the mistake.
Unanimously the better prospect when compared to his brother, Andrew Harrison is a smart point guard with room to improve. His jump shot needs some work, but he is aggressive off the dribble and can make things happen once he gets in the lane.
Unlike Wright, Harrison (also 6'6) is more of a combo guard than a prototypical point guard. Harrison's handles are above average, but he's nothing to write home about in the pick and roll, which is essential for any NBA PG.
Defensively, he plays the passing lanes well, but isn't especially quick laterally. Some scouts are much higher on Harrison than I am, but I think most of his defensive acumen is because he is more physically gifted than many of his college opponents. As soon as he puts on a NBA uniform, he instantly loses most advantages he had physically. He won't be able to bully opposing point guards defensively or get where he wants off the dribble, like he did at Kentucky.
Most of Harrison's strength's in college were based on his physical tools, which will be canceled out by grown professional athletes in the NBA. Andrew Harrison will definitely struggle in his rookie season, as he adjusts to the level of competition. However, because of his length, athleticism, and quickness, he could have a nice career.
Draft Grade: C+