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What is a “Could Have Been?”

We begin our newest offseason series.

Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks

Every team, in any sport, not just the NBA, has a few of these players throughout their history, and the Rockets are not immune. “Could-Have-Beens” are players that showed promise at one point or another during their career, but simply failed to live up to expectations or fizzled out for some reason.

Busts fit this narrative 100 percent of the time, but this list will not feature 10 busts. The list could range from busts who failed to play a game like Royce White, to hall-of-famers like Charles Barkley.

Granted, neither White or Barkley are on this list, as White never made enough of a promising impact to be on this list, and Barkley did a decent enough job for someone in the twilight of his career.

The Rockets have also employed guys before the prime of their careers like Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and Heat guard Goran Dragic, both All-Stars this past season. Even though both could have possibly reached their potential while wearing Rockets red, neither will be seen on the list.

Players on this list will appear due to the high expectations placed upon them because of their early promising play or high draft pick status, and simply did not reach the bar that was set for them.

Players who showed promise on other teams, but failed to reach expectations, also missed the cut. This list includes Stromile Swift, who signed a 4-year, $22 million deal with Houston in 2005, and Ty Lawson, who was traded from the Nuggets in 2015. Both players had a lot of potential before coming to the Rockets, but are omitted from the list because they never materialized at any point during their Houston careers.

So yes, Royce White could have been a good player had he played a game for the Rockets, but we never even saw him on the court to make that determination. And he hasn’t played anywhere since, with just three total minutes of official NBA court time.

Yes, Charles Barkley could have been better than he was past his prime. But a 19-and-14 season and a Conference Finals appearance is hardly an official “Could-Have Been”.

Yes, Kyle Lowry could have found his groove in Houston. So could Goran Dragic. But neither really fizzled out. Lowry was traded for a first-round pick after a pretty good statistical year, and Dragic left on his own accord for better-paying pastures (the Phoenix Suns dropped $30 mill on him in 2012) just before hitting his prime.

Yes, Stromile Swift could have played up to his potential as a former #2 overall pick and his large-at-the-time $22 million deal. But he’s more a “Never-Was” than a “Could-Have-Been”.

Yes, Ty Lawson could have matched his near double-double numbers with the Nuggets in Houston, but he never showed even a spec of promise with the Rockets. He was a disappointment, but not a “Could-Have-Been”.

All of these guys could have made the list, but ultimately did not. Throughout the next two weeks, who do you think will make an appearance?