We took a closer look at Sam Dekker for SB Nation's NBA Rookie Week back in March, and not much has changed for the young forward out of Wisconsin since then. He's still an unknown commodity.
Back surgery last November put Dekker on the sideline, and with the Rockets scraping and clawing their way into the postseason, there was very little court time for on-the-job training for Dekker. He finished the season with just 6 total minutes played on an NBA floor, all coming in the first month of the season, so any talk about Dekker's place on the Rockets moving forward is based solely on potential.
Though ESPN's Calvin Watkins believes the Rockets do consider Dekker part of their young core moving forward.
I don't believe DMo will return. Capela, KJ, Harrell, Dekker nice young talent with Harden,Bev and Ariza. https://t.co/9rjh6sXUO1— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) May 1, 2016
And if the other part of Watkins' tweet about Donatas Motiejunas' possible departure is true, combined with the final flame out of another young forward in Terrence Jones, Dekker could find himself with an opening to earn some playing time in his second season.
For his part, Dekker remains positive and looks forward to the soon-coming day the Rockets' logjam at forward dissipates into free agency and roster reconstruction. He told The Sporting News towards the end of the regular season back in April:
"It's been a little frustrating with me being hurt. But you learn a lot. Some people can step back and give up, but other people can use it as motivation to better themselves, and that's what I'm doing. I'm trying to learn every day and stay involved. A lot of rookies don't get the chance to play, and I need to make the most out of it and things will get better for me. Things will get better for me."
Despite the lack of court time, Dekker still made sure to stay in as good shape as possible and continued to work on his conditioning and rehab, even if he wasn't able to do it on the hardwood in actual games.
"During the first half to the season, I was in a suit, sitting on the bench. And I love being with the guys. But this last time, when I've been inactive, they don't want me sitting. They don't want me to get stiff, so I'm sitting in the back watching TV, doing cardio and pilates, getting as much work as I can, getting more rehab. So I am staying connected to the team, but I'm staying physically on top as well."
The extra work and additional rehab seem to paying off for the 22-year-old, as CBS is reporting that Dekker is finally feeling improvement and will not need any additional procedures on his recovering back (an injury famous for follow-up surgeries), and should be good-to-go at 100 percent to start next season.
Dekker will be coming into the year totally healthy, if he is to be believed, and plans on showcasing the shooting, slashing, and playmaking ability that made him a first round draft pick of Daryl Morey in 2015. And after a trying season in which numerous veterans regressed, the Rockets could certainly use some young players with upside. Dekker is fully prepared for his chance:
"When my time comes, I am expected to be ready, and I know I will be ready."
We look forward to finding out in the 2016-2017 season.