A lot of thoughts. First, I recommend heading over to SBNation’s TheDreamshake for in-depth pick by pick coverage of yesterday’s event.
One thing I want to touch on is my attitude towards the draft itself, in general. It used to be something I regarded with complete apathy, and for good reason. There was little chance anyone Carrol Dawson selected, even a first-rounder, would have any impact on the team so why become emotionally invested in the process? That’s changed. With Morey at the helm, if it’s a first-rounder, there’s a pretty good chance the player selected will be on your television screen for extended periods in the near future. On a night when the team selected two players in the first round, there’s much reason for excitement.
As I’ve said before, I don’t know much about college or international ball. In fact, there are fewer topics on this earth regarding which I hold less knowledge. So I can’t exactly speak with authority any greater than what’s already out there on the men the Rockets last night acquired. But I do have some thoughts on some of the general logic that’s out there…
Perusing some of the internet forums, a certain reaction by fans is almost ritual at this time each year: The Rockets need help at position X; the Rockets select player that plays position Y; fanbase screams in anger/befuddlement.
I don’t get it. That Morey didn’t reach on a player he felt to be lesser just to fill some perceived need doesn’t mean he isn’t cognizant of the need itself. Morey knows we need shot-blocking. He wasn’t born yesterday, so you can stop screaming about the team leaving the draft without filling its need for size. It’s just dumb, dumb logic. When you’re rebuilding, you don’t reach on players to fit need; you amass the best talent that you can and then sort it out later. When he picked Aaron Brooks, the same people were screaming about passing up on Josh freaking McRoberts for god’s sakes; Morey addressed the power forward spot by promptly trading for Luis Scola in the coming weeks.
Moving along: both of the picks are extremely intriguing, but a large part of my analysis is clouded by the reaction formation from Morey’s historical success in the first round (Brooks, Patterson.) I like Motiejunas just simply because a franchise that weighs the true value of every penny deemed him worth first round money. Morris is another issue. (Another point: Morey turned half-seasons of Battier/Brooks essentially into Motiejunas and the ability to drop Brad Miller. That’s good management.)
On Morris: The more I read and more video I consume, I love this pick. The guy seems like a bulldog at the ’3′. Sort of a poor man’s Pierce/Melo/Mashburn type. I’m enamored by people over 6’5 who can dribble a basketball. (If you’ve read the Trevor Ariza series, you will know that the art of dribbling a basketball is something upon which I place great value.) I don’t know if you can necessarily just automatically assume Morris and Patterson will form the forward portion of the Rockets’ frontline for the next decade, but…it’s a nice thought. I envision the team utilizing Morris in the low post to bully smaller opponents, adding another focal point to their attack. Yesterday morning, the team only had one low post option on its roster. In the modern age, it is imperative for NBA teams to amass weaponry; you must have the ability to attack your opponent in various manners and force him to react. Morris’ multi-dimensional skills fit that bill.
On the draft: Jeff Van Gundy made a comment in passing, regarding the Charlotte Bobcats, which made me absolutely livid. He stated that they needed to get out of mediocrity and that NBA teams should try to be either “really good” or “really bad.” I’ll pause while you allow the irony to set in. It was Van Gundy whose inexplicable playing of the geriatric twins (Juwan Howard and David Wesley) heavy minutes down the stretch in ’06 caused the team to ultimately miss out on Brandon Roy. Look, I understand the distinction here: coaches aren’t insulated and ultimately have to tend to their legacies to the sacrifice of the team’s greater future. But Jeff Van Gundy–and I love him–may have cost the Rockets an NBA championship. (I mean this. You put Brandon Roy on that ’07 team next to a healthy McGrady and Yao with Hayes and Alston at the other spots and they beat Utah, they destroy the Warriors, and I think they probably beat the Spurs too. This should not ever be forgiven. Never forget.) This also begs other greater philosophical discussion regarding Morey: the importance of the general manager’s full control over team operations; there simply cannot be conflicts of interests involving persons in positions of power. But I’ll touch on that later.
Brad Miller: had some good moments, but happy to see the guy go. A puzzling signing (when it was made) which in retrospect made sense given the decision to go all-in on Yao. I think the refreshing, symbolic aspect of his trading–aside from the fact we finally traded his ass–is that it’s a further break from the ‘Yao era’, a dark period which will hopefully be forgotten soon in our minds. Miller was maybe the last example of the team mortgaging its future, or, basing its decisionmaking on the false premise of a healthy Yao. Oh wait, Luis Scola is still on the roster. Scratch that.
On Luis Scola: Please trade the man. With all due respect. I like his production, but he’s 31 and not getting better anytime soon. By the time the team is relevant, I’ll have begun showing signs of balding in what has to date been an otherwise gloriously full head of hair. With the new additions to the team, it’s time to go completely full force with the youth movement and purge the oldies. Age discrimination is in vogue these days.