The Rockets’ Summer League campaign begins this afternoon, and The Dream Shake has all you need to know about the Rockets participating and what to look forward to over the next ten days.
7/7 - Rockets vs. Nuggets - 9 CT - NBA TV/WatchESPN
7/8 - Rockets vs. Cavaliers - 9 CT - ESPNU/WatchESPN
7/10 - Rockets vs. Suns - 5:30 CT - NBATV/WatchESPN
George de Paula (not Paul George)
How will the recent second round picks fare?
Zhou Qi, the 2016 second-rounder, has looked impressive in summer camp and the Vegas Summer League will be his first action in a Rockets uniform. It will be interesting to see how he fares. Standing at 7’2”, he is actually a forward as opposed to a center. To my knowledge, it seems like the Rockets are trying to mold Qi into a Kristaps Porzingis-esque player, as someone who can block shots, hold it down in the paint, and shoot threes.
Hartenstein provides similar characteristics, but the chances of him playing are less likelier than others. Qi did not play in last year’s summer league, and it would not be surprising if Hartenstein is a roster filler for this Vegas team. If he ends up playing, it likely won’t be with Qi on the court given that the two play similar positions.
This is Qi’s time to shine and chance to carve out a role on the team that he might have next season.
Who is the most intriguing player on the roster?
For me, it is a tie between Zhou Qi and Cameron Oliver. Oliver was a projected second-round prospect but he fell out of the draft and signed as an undrafted free agent. Oliver likely fell due to his tweener status, a 6’8” power forward, but he is one of the most athletic prospects out of this draft. Watching Oliver over the next few days will be exciting, and I reckon the Rockets will try to keep him down in the Valley this season as a Viper, so he’s a name we should all familiarize ourselves with.
Who could make the team from this roster?
I believe seven Rockets have a chance to make the final roster for the Rockets: Ray McCallum, Cam Oliver, Chinanu Onuaku, Zhou Qi, Isaiah Taylor, Jarrod Uthoff, and Troy Williams.
Troy Williams should be a leader for this team, and with the only player with Rockets playoff experience on the roster, he is the most likely to make the team next season.
Cam Oliver’s athleticism alone will give him a chance, and so will Zhou Qi’s upside.
Onuaku and Taylor spent time last year in the Valley for the Vipers, but will be in consideration for the Houston roster this season. Uthoff also spent time in the D-League last season with the Texas Legends, and after he was traded to Houston last week, he was destined to stay after learning he could not be traded for two months. It is possible that Daryl Morey is looking for him to occupy Kyle Wiltjer’s vacant roster spot.
However, the person that I believe could really help this roster is Ray McCallum. McCallum has the most NBA experience in the bunch, playing for the Kings, Grizzlies, Spurs, and Hornets. He has a chance to secure the third team point guard spot on this roster with a strong Summer League showing. Being 26, he has the most to prove and he feels that it is his time to take advantage of the situation.