My only game in Las Vegas is one that none of Sam Dekker, Nick Johnson, Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell played in. This was only made up for by the fact that I talked to Daryl Morey before the game, who simply said they were all banged up and "it sucks."
It's entirely possible — heck, even likely — that no one who played in the Rockets' inaugural game of Summer League 2015 (presented by Samsung, we are reminded every 15 seconds) against the D-League Select is on the Rockets in October. But, it's also a possibility, and a few of the candidates impressed in Houston's 111-104 win.
First and foremost, Alan Williams. The former UC Santa Barbara Gaucho (not to be confused with the Santa Cruz Banana Slugs or the Long Beach State Dirtbags) is a 6-8, 261-pound bull of a prospect. He was matched up with Hasheem Thabeet a fair amount of the game, and scored EASILY over his long arms, had no trouble boxing him out, and led all players in rebounds. The Rockets have long had a surplus of undersized power forwards, but this one I want. He finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds.
The other two guys who looked like NBA players were Glen Rice Jr. and Christian Wood. There were times when Wood wasn't engaged, and he didn't play most of the second half (just 14 minutes overall), but he shot 4 of 4 and looked confident stroking the ball. I would have liked to see him play more, but there wasn't any explanation offered for why he sat (maybe saving him for games against real NBA players?).
Oh, Glen Rice, Jr. The former Wizard was the Summer League MVP last year and dropped 20 points and 6 rebounds. He took over in the third quarter and basically put the game away before some shenanigans in the fourth quarter made it close again. He has a great handle, a great shot and stupendous athleticism. He's also got a reputation for being kind of a head case. I doubt he makes the Rockets, but I don't doubt he makes the next 10 days fun.
After the game, Nick Johnson said he was impressed with Aubrey Coleman, although I don't really see why. He had 6 points and 2 rebounds in 10 minutes and didn't play in the second half. He seemed to play good defense, but that's really hard to tell A) in summer league and B) guarding players who will likely never play another NBA minute.
In all, the big takeaway from this is the Rockets' tryout players aren't terrible. They have a largely full roster, especially considering Wood has a partially guaranteed contract, so it's unclear how realistic any of these guys' hopes are of making the Rockets' roster.
A few other notes from watching the game:
- Chris Walker was a McDonald's All-American as a senior in high school, went undrafted, and I doubt he makes an NBA roster. There was one sequence in the second quarter in which he missed two straight layups and then turned the ball over. It was typical summer league, but he has the talent to dominate, and he disappeared for long stretches. He finished with 9 points and 6 rebounds in 13 minutes
- Our own Kevin Nesgoda predicted Will Cummings would have to use his degree in the real world, but I'm gonna have to disagree. Cummings started, had 14 points and 4 assists and made 5 of 6 shots. He came up with a few "how did he do that?" loose balls, and is a great hustler. There's no way he makes the Rockets, but he has a future in high-level pro ball.
- Every member of the Rockets starting lineup was there (depending on your opinion of Terrence Jones vs. D-Mo) other than Dwight Howard, who was at Comic-con. Patrick Beverley was dancing, smiling and having a good time. James Harden seemed like he was talking to everyone and everyone, Trevor Ariza hugged at least a dozen people (like, big hugs) and D-Mo sat on the bench.
- I enjoy being up close to the Rockets and wish I could do it more often. The people around the team are genuinely nice and welcoming. Daryl Morey told me we were "one of the good blogs" and my life was complete.