This was an odd draft. It had been denigrated in many quarters. Those quarters are typically the ones that talk, almost constantly, about the top five picks. Those are the franchise defining players (one way or another), but they don’t represent all that much of a draft class. When there is no clear star, or even potential star, in those top five picks, and no clear pecking order in which they should be picked, it’s “A Bad Draft”.
This draft was one that might make a team glad that a rare #1 pick hadn’t settled on them. But what about later picks? There seemed to be rotation pieces, and starters, throughout the draft. This comes with the usual caveats regarding how many players actually make it from the later picks. The idea being outside the first few picks, odds aren’t great for many players sticking around long.
I’d argue that those top picks might experience something like the same attrition if they weren’t freighted with franchise expectations, and tied to the jobs of various GMs and coaches. In a rational world, no one gives Wiggins the big contract he got, for example.
That aside, let’s move off the top shelf of this draft for now (perhaps I can work up a Lamelo Ball slander piece). It’s not that I think he’s bad, just that I think the Ball family should be drafted closer to 20 than 2. But this one’s different, right?
Anyhow, what’s the Rockets week look like?
First, the Rockets hired an assistant coach from Australia-New Zealand NBL, Will Weaver, and look to sign his favorite player, Jae’Sean Tate. Jeremy Brener wrote him up here. If you are like me, and don’t think too much of another NBL pick (no, not R.J. Hampton) compare their reels from Australia, and consider that this is the BEST they look. (Sure one is a kid, but the other is a street FA.) Tate is clearly quicker than almost anyone around him in that league. He’s a strong, fast, solidly-built, 6’4”. Does that remind you of anyone? Could he be PJ Tucker’s platoon? Tucker used to play around the basket more, too.
Then there’s the oblique second rounder, Kenyon Martin Jr. The details of how the pick came to the Rockets are confusing, and if you want to believe it was a $4.6 million second rounder, fine. But the Rockets probably got a first round talent there. There’s absolutely nothing about Martin that suggests he’s not an NBA level talent. His combine measurements prompted some to comment that he was the best athlete in the draft. He can hit the corner three, too. It’s a funky shot, but it’s almost a set shot. If it becomes one, the pump fake and baseline drive is open. Like his dad, he’s a constant physical menace. We don’t know a lot, but a shot at a potentially top talent in the mid second is great value.
Finally there’s undrafted signing Mason Jones. He’s an older pick, but one that could be a late bloomer. He’s a James Harden impersonator. No, really. He studied how James Harden attacks the basket and forces the defender to either concede the layup, or foul. Guess what? It worked. He had the highest FT rate in the NCAA, and one of the highest true shooting percentages. He’s a guy who started playing basketball late, shed pounds, and blossomed into a genuine menace in the NCAA. The odds are worse with older NCAA players, but this is just the sort of story to look for. This is a great interview with him.
Did the Rockets, against all expectations, get a wing, a shooting guard, and a “big”? They might have.
Also, some gratuitous Thunder slander, while everyone is gushing about their “assets”. When you can trade NBA players and picks to get The Serbian Zhou Qi #17, you pretty much are obligated to do so. To be fair, though, Zhou Qi is considerably more muscular, and played at higher levels.
No, no, I’m sure he’s Euro Durant. He must be, the Thunder picked him.
The week is probably just beginning for the Rockets, though. The start of FA should bring more news.
Draft Night Thoughts?
This poll is closed
Honestly I’m so furious at the Rockets, I have no idea.
Good night for Dallas. Got a good player, traded one, replaced him instantly.