Writing a few hundred words on the contributions that Troy Williams, Isaiah Taylor, Kyle Wiltjer, and Chinanu Onuaku gave the Rockets this season is damn near impossible, so we're putting them all together.
Of the group of four that took up roster spots 11-15, only Williams would actually see meaningful minutes. Towards the end of the year, the Rockets ran into injuries and the "we have nothing else to play for bug," and Williams was born.
While Wiltjer would log the most games played (14), Williams had much more of an impact, in his six games played he started three times, and in his first start he'd put up 21 points and a Rockets team without James Harden, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza beat the Suns 123-116.
While Williams showed some athletic flashes, not much was learned about the other three during the regular season. Wiltjer, Taylor and Onuaku primarily spent the year with the Rockets D-League team.
At the beginning of the year, Wiltjer always seemed like Donatas Motiejunas roster spot holder. With Motiejunas never signing, Wiltjer took his spot and spent a lot of time in Houston (only played 22 games for the Vipers), but on most game days was inactive. The 6-10 power forward, seems to be a guy that could develop into another Ryan Anderson if he's given time, still a year or two away. The Rockets agree, according to The New York Times.
Onuaku, like Wiltjer, seems like a project, but he certainly has the size that intrigues the Rockets. With nearly a 7'3 wingspan he averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds (rounding up) in 43 games with the Vipers. He didn’t dominate quite like Clint Capela did in RGV in his first season, but Capela was a first-rounder, and Onuaku was a second-rounder, for a reason.
Taylor was signed after the Rockets missed out on Andrew Bogut, and, as of today, I am still not exactly sure why. With all of the 50 Rockets ball handlers, having another one under contract really served no purpose.
With all four playing very little for the Rockets this past season, what is next for the bottom of the bench?
If it's up to the Rockets, Williams would likely be back. In the short time he was on the court, he proved he could hustle, play defense and was extremely athletic, much like what the Rockets wanted out of K. J. McDaniels. The only backup to Trevor Ariza is Sam Dekker and having Williams would provide some nice development depth. But Williams might have shown enough for another team to take a flyer on the ex-Hoosier. As a restricted free-agent, anyone can sign him, but the Rockets would have a chance to match. I’m not sure if they would.
Onuaku has a guaranteed contract through the 2019 season and it's hard to see him going anywhere else, except as fodder in a trade.
The real question for Onuaku is if he will get much of a run next season? If the Rockets re-sign Nene, he probably is stuck in the D-League again, but if they don't he would have a chance to earn some minutes behind Montrezl Harrell. With Onuaku only 20 years old, the Rockets are in no rush.
Going into Summer League this upcoming season, there will be roster spots to win, and Taylor and Wiltjer are likely on the outside looking in. Neither Taylor nor Wiltjer have guaranteed contracts, and neither are vital to next season.
Wiltjer will be 25 this year, and finding a younger power forward development project won't be that hard, especially with two second-round picks and Zhou Qi potentially coming over.
Taylor, on the other hand, just plays at a spot the Rockets where the Rockets have depth. The speedy point guard might have some upside, but it would take two massive injuries for the Rockets to even call him up from the D-League. Even then, Mike D'Antoni would be unlikely to throw him into action.
Every team changes the roster some from one year to the next and most of the Rockets changes will come from this group of four. Look for younger, athletic, three-point shooters to be added in their stead.