This is a guest post written by Kirk Henderson (@KirkSeriousFace), an editor at Mavs Moneyball. Thanks Kirk!
Good news, Rockets fans: the Summer League showcase meant to show off actual NBA players actually featured a rostered player for Houston. Montrezl Harrell suited up and had himself a game as the Rockets coasted to a 108-89 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
The Rockets controlled the game from opening tip, opening up a 10-0 run immediately. The Suns would rally repeatedly throughout the game, but never take a lead. The Rockets forced an absurd 22 turnovers in a 40-minute game which led to the team reaching the second-highest point total so far in Summer League with 108 points. Houston is now 2-0 and has one more game Monday night at 9 p.m. CST before tournament play stats.
But remember the final score isn't really the point of Summer League. Front offices need to see who, if anyone, is actually able to play basketball at the NBA level. In the case of first round draft picks, it usually means whether or not a player has a series of skills which would allow them to be rotation players. In the case of everyone else, it's watching to see if they have any single still which could get them on a NBA roster in the future.
Montrezl Harrell is going to find a way to make an impact at the next level
After the draft, the Jason Patt of SB Nation referred to the athleticism and motor of Harrell and suggested he would be a "terror around the basket." It's only one game, but this is an accurate assessment. I'd go so far as to call him a terror all around the court. Harrell was all over the court, getting a tip dunk, a chase down strip, a number of strong post ups and working his butt off on the glass.
It's hard to say which of these skills projects at the next level, but his 7'4" wingspan and willingness to do dirty work leads me to believe he'll end up getting minutes at some point if Houston needs him. 11 points and 8 rebounds might not seem ridiculous, but his gravity was felt throughout the game.
Pairing Harrell and Alan Williams together isn't fair in Summer League
The lack of shot blocking for Phoenix was evident from the first few minutes of the game, with Houston get rim attempt at rim attempt. The hoss pairing of Williams and Harrell together felt like cheating because when both were on the floor together, Phoenix just couldn't seem to get rebounds. Williams led Houston with an absurd +37 in just 23 minutes. He's probably too short to ever make a NBA roster, but with his girth and willingness to bang, he could have a reasonable career overseas.
Christian Wood has all the tools to be an NBA player
I understand the explanations but I still don't understand how Christian Wood went undrafted. He's got the long frame NBA teams covet.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) July 12, 2015
Wood had the worst plus-minus of any Rockets player and yet regardless of his mistakes, there's something about his movements on the floor that scream NBA player. He has the talent and, like so many NBA prospects before him, he seems to be missing that intangible thing which puts all his skills together and would result in him becoming a star.
The Rockets' style makes it hard to gauge a players strengths/weaknesses
Scoring 108 points is hard. But the pressuring style and forcing turnovers paired with a light offense (meaning, quick decisions and taking the first shot available) means we're not really seeing a lot of sets. Most NBA teams run real defensive schemes that require scouting and planning to succeed against, so a run-and-gun system for less-talented players means we're not getting to see all of these players skill sets. Of course, that doesn't really matter when you have a strong team framework in place like the Rockets do with Harden and Dwight, but it's something to consider as you watch the remaining summer league games