NBA Free Agency 2012: 7 Soon to Be Studs the Houston Rockets Should Be Targeting

James PearsonCorrespondent IMay 28, 2012

NBA Free Agency 2012: 7 Soon to Be Studs the Houston Rockets Should Be Targeting

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    The Houston Rockets desperately need a star player to get them into the NBA playoffs.

    Seemingly the ninth best team in the Western Conference every year, Houston needs that one player to get them over the playoff hump.

    This is a very important summer for the Rockets (although it always seems like that) with numerous free agents of their own and plenty of money to spend. This summer is going to shape this franchise for the next five years.

    To help fill the "stud" void on their roster, here are the seven players the Houston Rockets should be targeting so they can stop selecting 14th in the NBA lottery every year.

7. Ryan Anderson

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    Ryan Anderson, after winning the NBA Most Improved Player award, fizzled in the playoffs which may hurt his free agent value.

    That could be a good thing for the Rockets.

    Anderson is an outstanding rebounder and an elite three-point shooter, with his versatility he has the potential to become a star in the NBA.

    What is special about Anderson is that he presents matchup problems on a nightly basis...how many guys in the league can rebound and shoot like he does? He is tough for any NBA team to prepare for. 

6. Roy Hibbert

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    As soon as Roy Hibbert signs his new deal he is going to be considered a star.

    Why not be the team that signs him to that deal?

    His performance, and how poorly the Indiana Pacers played without him in the playoffs, will allow Hibbert to command top dollar this summer.

    However, we have to file Hibbert under a dream scenario for Houston as he is a restricted free agent and with the Pacers fully under the cap they would have to insane not to match any offer that comes Hibbert's way.

    It never hurts to ask though, right?

    The Rockets should offer Hibbert a max deal and at least give the Pacers something to think about. After making his first of what should be many All-Star appearances, Hibbert would fill the giant hole left by Yao Ming.

5. Ersan Ilyasova

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    The Rockets need an "it" guy and Ersan Ilyasova showed last season that he is on the verge of stardom.

    An athletic double-double machine who can play either forward position Ilyasova will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Rockets have a chance to "overpay" for his services enabling them to outbid any other team that will want his services.

    His presence would not only give the Rockets a young stud to build around; it would also make it that much easier to deal Luis Scola.

4. Brook Lopez

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    Brook Lopez's promising career has been derailed by injuries and shockingly low rebound totals.

    He is still, however, a seven-foot center with a ton of potential. Those types don't exactly grow on trees.

    Scola's ability to crash the boards would help disguise Lopez's inability to rebound and paired with gifted outside shooters. Maybe Lopez will improve on his embarrassing low assist numbers.

    If he stays healthy, Lopez could be the one of the next stud centers in the league, something the Rockets (or any other team) covets.

    With New Jersey's offseason plan in flux thanks to the Dwight Howard and Deron Williams saga, the Rockets could come in with an offer to solidify their center spot for years to come.

3. Javale McGee

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    Talent and athleticism have never been questions with Javale McGee; it's that thing that is between his shoulders that is holding him back.

    McGee, once he was freed from Washington, showed maturity with the Denver Nuggets and he displayed that is capable of improving. If Kevin McHale thinks he can control him, the Rockets could gamble on him, hoping that he would be their starting center for the next half decade and fulfill his untapped potential.

    If McHale can't control him, not only will McHale be out (which sounds like it might happen anyway), the Rockets will be stuck with an underachieving headache.

2. Goran Dragic

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    Yes, he is their own free agent, but retaining Goran Dragic should be high on the Rockets offseason checklist.

    Kyle Lowry has made his feelings clear and re-signing Dragic would give the Rockets the chance to improve via the trade market. Lowry is unhappy and Dragic looked as good, if not better then him last year and he is seemingly happy in Houston. 

    Dealing Lowry and making Kevin Martin and Scola available (they have been traded once already, why not trade them again?) the Rockets can fetch the superstar they so desperately need to pair with an emerging point guard in Dragic. 

1. Eric Gordon

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    Eric Gordon has all the makings of being the next star guard in the NBA. He just needs to stay on the floor which is the only thing holding us back from calling Gordon a star.

    Really, has there been a more touted player in the history of the NBA who has missed 35 percent of his games to start his career? There is a reason for that, he has the ability to be that good. 

    The Rockets should take a gamble here and offer Gordon a max deal and hope that he overcomes his injury-filled past to become the next star in the NBA.

    As a restricted free agent, acquiring Gordon could give the Rockets the chance to kill two birds with one stone. The New Orleans Hornets wanted Kevin Martin once before, why not ship him there as compensation to enable Gordon to come to Houston as they get out from under Martin's contract?

    Gordon, if a Rocket, would give Houston the star power they need to be a Western Conference contender.