Sam Dekker might not have been the best piece the Rockets sent the Clippers in the Chris Paul trade, but he might have been the one whose absence would hamstring the Rockets’ depth most of all.
One evening in Vegas later, and Troy Williams, whom the Rockets signed to a 10-day contract then kept for the rest of the season, showed the team might not miss Dekker at all.
Williams is an athletic marvel and a not-terrible deep shooter, and he enforced his will on the Denver Nuggets’ summer league squad Friday night to the tune of 29 points on 15 shots, tossing in two steals for good measure. Williams had great chemistry with Isaiah Taylor, who dropped 10 dimes, and harangued the Nuggets on the perimeter.
Williams is an overwhelming athlete not unlike K.J. McDaniels, except he’s several inches taller and by most measures a far more polished basketball player.
Last year in Las Vegas, Dekker showed himself to be the best of the Rockets’ young players, and led the team with 16 points per game. The Rockets play again Saturday night against the Cavs, and Williams needs to have more than one good game to show the Rockets coaches he deserves more minutes.
Dekker helped the Rockets last year with his energy and athleticism, but he struggled to shoot the three after a hot start, and once he stopped shooting well, D’Antoni stopped trusting him. Williams isn’t behind him as a shooter, but he’s ahead of Dekker already as a defender.
Williams is cheaper, a year younger and a better athlete than Dekker. Even though Zhou Qi is the No. 1 player to watch on the Rockets’ Summer League roster, Williams is likely to be the guy on the team who plays the most minutes for the big club next season.
Some Rockets fans might have complained about the lack of depth following a 4-for-1 deal for Chris Paul. But if Troy Williams, only 22, can keep this improvement going, he might give the Rockets an honest-to-god depth improvement over their 55-win team. That should be a scary thought for the rest of the league.
UPDATE: I wrote this totally forgetting that Troy Williams is not under contract for next year. The Rockets have room on their roster, especially considering the non-guaranteed contracts they currently have, and hopefully when they decide they’re done dealing, they can sign him for next year before another team snaps him up. Barring injury, he will have an NBA contract next season. I just hope it’s in Houston.