The rookie group of Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones will surely help the Rockets try to acquire a playoff berth, but which forward will have the biggest impact in his inaugural season?
Obviously, the popular choice is their highest picked player, Jeremy Lamb. The former UConn star has all the tools to thrive in the NBA. A 6'5" lanky frame coupled with top-tier athleticism will allow Lamb to develop into a prolific shot maker as a professional.
Between his silky smooth jumper and efficient floaters, this 20-year-old prospect has drawn comparisons to the Brooklyn Nets' Joe Johnson.
However, don't expect Lamb, who was drafted with the 12th overall pick, to put up major numbers in his first season. With Kevin Martin and possibly Courtney Lee on the roster next season, the rookie shooting guard will most likely be relegated to the bench.
Kevin Martin, barring an injury or trade, will assume the starting role due to all the money the team has invested in the veteran.
This leaves the quadrumvirate of forwards to fight for the honor of having the best rookie season on the Rockets. Furkan Aldemir, Donatas Motiejunas, Royce White and Terrence Jones will all vie for playing time in a logjam at the forward positions that already features Patrick Patterson, Luis Scola, Chandler Parsons, Marcus Morris and recently-obtained Josh Harrellson.
Furkan Aldemir is undoubtedly the underdog to gain minutes outside of garbage time if he is even on the roster. The Turkish big man will almost certainly stay overseas one more year.
That leads us to our next candidate, Royce White. The former Iowa State star excelled during the NCAA tournament, but has many question marks surrounding his game and personal life. It was a risky pick to say the least, especially at the 15th spot.
Currently, White doesn't even have a position due to being too slow to guard small forwards and too small to guard big men. The 6'8" White also has intangibles very similar to those in the game of Marcus Morris, a more refined player.
Terrence Jones, on the other hand, has been ready to make the jump to the league for quite sometime. The former Kentucky Wildcat has great size for a small forward and can penetrate very effectively. He has good ball-handling and playmaking skills for his 6'9" frame and could turn into a valuable point-forward in the future.
Jones, though, will probably have numerous forwards ahead of him on the depth chart with all the talent at the position and may see minutes only at the ends of blowout games.
This leaves Donatas Motiejunas.
With Marcus Camby on his way to the Knicks and Samuel Dalembert on the downside of his career, Motiejunas will have the opportunity to start this year at center. While this is not his regular position, as he played on the perimeter this season for the Polish Club Asseco Prokom, his big frame will allow him to fill the center spot. Sure, Omer Asik, if the Bulls retain him, may compete for the starting job, but he has never seen major minutes.
His versatility and rare skill set for a seven-footer should have Houston Rockets fans excited. In fact, Motiejunas would have probably been selected higher than 20th in the 2011 draft if he would have immediately come overseas.
Not only can he shoot from behind the arc, but he has a knack for pulling down rebounds. At best, this 21-year-old could be the next Pau Gasol.
My bet is Motiejunas has the best season of all the rookies. He will receive major minutes with the glaring hole at center and could put up gaudy numbers.
In the end, however, the Houston Rockets have been quite active in trade talks, including deals surrounding Dwight Howard and/or Andrew Bynum. The team has already made three major deals this summer, and who is to say there isn't a blockbuster on the horizon?
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