With guys like Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Jeremy Lamb, and Perry and Terrence Jones seemingly scared off by the potential lockout, the lottery looks to be full of players who, like Andrew Johnson’s presidency or the ‘99 Spurs, are simply there by default. The draft talk all year seemed to suggest that this one would be thin, and now it looks to be even thinner (sorry, Cleveland).
Because of this and the Rockets’ need for an infusion of young/any talent, the team might be in a position to trade up.
While I am as generally ambivalent toward the draft for need vs. best available argument as I am about nature vs. nurture, I do think the Rockets’ brass can’t afford to ignore the roster of hard-working, (mostly) young talent they already have.
The team as currently constructed is not in need of back-court help. With Lowry/Dragic and Martin/Lee, the Rockets boast one of the better back-courts in the league. With that in mind, trading up to snag Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight would more than likely also require trading a current player/starter (i.e. Lowry or Martin) to make room for the rookie, minutes wise, which, to me, at best would probably be a lateral move in terms of the team’s overall success/talent and more likely, at least initially, a step backward. Therefore, I think the Rockets should (and probably will) target a big man.
After watching whatever tape I could find lying around the internet and reading the various observations of the various pundits, I personally think the best two candidates to fill the Rockets’ big-man needs are Enes Kanter and Bismack Biyombo.
I won’t bore you with the specifics you can find elsewhere online about either, but, needless to say, they’re both big. And while both seem to be teeming with potential, neither is guaranteed to be a success in the NBA.
This year, Kanter was slated to join Calipari’s/William Wesley’s NBA combine at Kentucky and, coming into the season, was widely considered a potential number one overall pick, but a personal indiscretion left him with a seat next to Coach John as an enormous cheerleader for the entirety of this year’s Wildcat campaign.
While Kanter looks to have real potential, no one has yet to see him face actual high-level competition in a game scenario (outside of the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit, of course, in which he broke Dirk Nowitzki’s record in that particular annual exhibition by scoring a tidy 34 points on 13 of 21 shooting with 13 boards in 24 minutes).
The problem with Kanter is that he’ll probably go #3 or #4 to either Utah or Cleveland respectively, and for the Rockets to trade into either spot, the team will most certainly have to give up significant assets, i.e. Martin/Lowry. But if the Rockets are high enough on the guy or if either team would consider Scola and some change (which I doubt), Kanter most certainly could be worthwhile consideration. (The same argument also applies to trading into the #2 spot for Derrick Williams.)
Bismack Biyombo is a similar case in that, like Kanter, he’s still largely unproven against high-level competition, again with the exception being a spectacular showing at the Nike Hoop Summit, posting its first ever triple double (points/rebounds/blocks). For the past two seasons, he’s played professionally in the ACB (Spanish professional league) where, in limited minutes, he led the league in blocks by a significant margin. Getting most of his points off of offensive rebounds and dunks, Biyombo looks to be very raw offensively, but he’s got the length (7’7″ wingspan), size, and elite athleticism to be a defensive force in the NBA.
Right now, most mock drafts have Biyombo going at the 13 spot, one sooner than the Rockets’ 14th pick, but he could be taken higher. The hope (mine, in particular) is that if he doesn’t fall to the Rockets at 14, the team might not have to give up all that much to move up a few spots to get him.
Whatever the case, this Houston team needs to improve, and, hopefully, with all the uncertainty surrounding this year’s draft, Morey and the Rockets find a way to use the rest of the league’s hesitation to help themselves.