A very big week for the Rockets continues with all sights set on the Dwight Howard Watch. As of this writing, Houston owns three first-round picks in Thursday night’s draft: 12, 16, 18. Given the all-out pursuit for Howard, the amount of picks they have could be fluid throughout the week. Regardless, I will list a variety of players I believe could be good fits in H-Town:
Andre Drummond– High upside and low floor type of player. The bright spots are that he is 6’11” and 18 years old, with a 7-6 wingspan. Drummond is a very good defensive player, and had good advanced metrics in terms of post defense this year at UConn.
Drummond has a long way to go in developing offensively, averaging only 10 PPG. His free throw shooting is abysmal at best (29.5%, not a misprint).
One of the questions that he faces is passion and desire to play all-out and compete. I think Drummond is a worthy gamble when you consider how rare quality center play in the NBA is.
Tyler Zeller – This is a player who I’ve really come around on throughout the draft process. Sometimes you watch a guy so long in college, you forget to appreciate what they bring to the table.
Zeller is a 7-footer who is productive on both ends of the floor. While not an amazing athlete, he runs the floor pretty well, and is an excellent free throw shooter. This is the type of player who has a very low bust factor.
John Henson – Henson came to North Carolina with a lot of promise three years ago. He struggled early, so it seemed as though draftnik types soured on his upside. I like what I saw out of Henson as a junior; not only did he continue his strong play on D, but he improved on offense.
It will be a challenge in the NBA, but Henson has developed a pretty nice jump shot around 10-15 feet in. He’s more athletic on defense than Zeller, and a superior shot-blocker. At the next level, Henson is going to have to bulk up his body and continue to hone his offensive game.
Royce White – White had a star-crossed college career until breaking out this year at Iowa State. Most people have read about his anxiety disorder and fear of flying, so that is obviously something to watch for in his evaluation.
What I like about White is his unique combination of skills. He’s a 6-8, 270 small forward with point guard type-ball skills. White had a double-double taking on UConn in the NCAA Tournament, before he tore up Kentucky with 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The Rockets may not necessarily be looking for small forwards in this draft, but White is somebody I would take a look at. He’s one of those players you could look back and wonder why he fell to _X_ spot in the draft.
Jared Sullinger – Extremely highly-touted coming out of high school, and had a very productive two years at Ohio State. Sullinger is currently falling down the draft boards because of reports that some teams’ medical doctors red-flagged his back.
Some are concerned that Sullinger is too small and not athletic enough. The way I see it, he brings a few tangible skills to the NBA level. I’ve heard the comparison made to DeJuan Blair, another player who had a high production level in college. Blair is more of a hustle/effort player than Sullinger, who is a legitimately well-developed offensive player.
Sullinger is the kind of post player who can step in right now and score at the NBA level. He has some range on his shot and works very well with his moves in the low post. At 6-9, he will likely struggle to defend athletic NBA power forwards.
Mike Meltser can be heard on MaD Radio from 10am-2pm