With the season over, our attention turns to the upcoming NBA draft, which will be held on June 22. The Houston Rockets hold picks 43 and 45 in the second round, with no first-round pick this year. That selection was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Lou Williams trade.
So with draft day just a few weeks away, the organization has already started looking at potential picks in the second round, and they had in six players earlier this week for some pre-draft workouts.
I didn’t know a lot about some these second-round and UDFA-possibility guys, so I was excited to check into each of them a little bit.
The senior center from the national champion North Carolina Tar Heels is listed at 6’9” and a robust 279 pounds. He helped his draft stock with some great performances in the NCAA tournament, going for 25 points and 14 boards against Oregon and securing double-digit rebounds in every tournament game save the opening round. He finished the year averaging 12.5 points and 9.6 rebounds and is regarded as a second-round prospect.
He lacks shooting range and has some serious questions about his defense and about his height, but he’s a total beast on the boards, and the Rockets could be looking for a big man, as they finished the year with some questions in their front court.
The 6’3” point guard from Gonzaga is slated to go in the draft’s second round, and could be available when the Rockets pick. According to his Twitter account, he was headed to Houston this week.
H-Town.— Nigel Williams-Goss (@NigelWG5) May 25, 2017
Williams-Goss is a measured and mature floor-general type that shoots well, can run an offense, and execute the pick and roll (music to Mike D’Antoni’s ears). He averaged 16.8 points per game this past season to go along with 6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He was also named the WCC Player of the Year.
He does, however, lack quickness and athleticism, and being that he’s already 23, is unlikely to get much more explosive.
What he would be, however, is a legitimate young point man to have on the roster and develop behind James Harden and Patrick Beverley. That young option this past season was either limited (Tyler Ennis) or non-existent.
I’m waiting to see if this visit ends up confirmed elsewhere; he could be intriguing in H-town.
The senior guard from Marquette had a solid final season in the NCAA, averaging 12 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game. A formerly poor shooter, he improved his three-point percentage up to 38 percent in both his junior and senior seasons, and his athleticism, height (6’5”) and length (6’9” wingspan) have allowed him to be a good defender at the two-guard position. Though at just 185 pounds, he’ll need to add some strength to compete at the next level. He projects in the second round or as an UDFA and looks like classic three-and-D guy.
The 7’6” center from the University of Central Florida worked out for the Rockets, along with several other teams, but must not have liked the feedback he received, as he’s decided to remove his name from the NBA draft pool and return to UCF for his junior season. He averaged 10.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game this past season and at one point led the country in field goal percentage. He finished at 71.5 percent, which is the best mark in school history.
He’s still really raw, however, as he grew up in Senegal and didn’t pick up the game of basketball until he was teenager, so most teams likely wanted to see him get another year of experience and to add a little muscle. He’s a name to keep an eye on in the future, however.
The Rockets also had in this 6’0” senior point guard from Illinois State. He also projects as a second-round choice or UDFA. Lee is a good shooter, knocking down 41 percent of his triples this past season, and his hard-nosed attitude also makes him a good defender. However, his lack of size (just 180 pounds) could hold him back at the next level, as he struggles to finish in the paint and could get pushed around a bit in the NBA. Still, he should find his way onto an NBA roster somewhere.
Coming from the University of North Dakota, Hooker is another 6’0” point guard, though at 205 pounds, carries a bit more size and strength than Lee. He also had a great senior year, averaging 19.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He also shot 42.6 percent from beyond the arc. Coming from a smaller school, Hooker is likely to end up as an UDFA, but he has the talent to catch on if he can show well in the Summer League.
Another player unlikely to be drafted, the 6’7”, 210-pound swingman from Texas State University had a solid senior season for the Bobcats, which could lead him to some Summer League action as well. He finished the year averaging 16.7 points per game, and the scorer-slasher also showed a nice touch from deep, knocking down 38.8 percent of his triples. The Rockets could use another young forward in the pipeline, and Gilder-Tilbury came out of of Cypress Falls High School, so he’s also a local guy.
Let us know. Would you want the Rockets to take a chance on any of these guys, either in the second round or as a UDFA?