NBA Predictions: Why the Houston Rockets' Royce White Is Poised for Greatness

Argun UlgenAnalyst IAugust 9, 2012

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Many NBA organizations will regret socially stigmatizing NBA rookie Royce White.

There is something to be said for 270 pound, 6'9" NBA player who can do this with a basketball.  Unique, graceful, special, and creative all come to mind.

White bedazzled fans at the NBA Summer League by displaying an unusual blend of skills for his position.  In his final three games of Summer League, White averaged 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists on 50 percent shooting from the field in under thirty minutes a game.

During his final NCAA season with Iowa State, White routinely outplayed opposing future top-ten 2012 NBA draft picks. For instance, in last spring's NCAA tournament against Connecticut's Andre Drummond (9th pick overall), White's 15 point, 13 rebound performance eclipsed Drummond's measly two points and three rebounds outing.

Why, then, wasn't White a top 10 (or even top five) NBA draft pick?  Because several NBA scouts had concerns with the power forward's diagnosed general anxiety disorder, one symptom of which is White's fear of flying. 

As a result, White's stock dropped and the Rockets eventually selected him with their 16th pick.  Had the Rockets not been in possession of three first round picks, White's draft status would have dropped even lower. 

At least ten teams that could have drafted White failed to fully appreciate just how prevalent anxiety disorder is in America, that the disorder can be effectively treated, and that several highly successful individuals overcame it to go onto great things. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are nearly 7 million Americans diagnosed with general anxiety disorder.  Dr. Peter Norton, the Director of the Anxiety Disorder Clinic at the University of Houston, stated in an interview (via Ultimate Rockets) that several professional athletes have this disorder, but fail to sufficiently address it. 

White could have spent the month before the NBA Draft dismissing his psychological problem.  Many people do.  Instead, in this interview with Sports Illustrated, White was unusually open about his anxiety disorder.  He spoke of this issue with honesty, intelligence, and a strikingly remarkable sense of self. 

How White has chosen to handle his anxiety disorder—by critically addressing it—bodes well for his NBA career.  Would a team rather have an immensely talented player like White who has the ability to critically evaluate himself, or, a player with the same physical blessings, free of a "disorder" stigma, but who fails to address his shortcomings? 

What the Houston Rockets have in Royce White is a player who has both the physical and mental ingredients to be a team leader, if not an NBA all-star.  No, his path to greatness will not be a seamless ascent.  But then again, which path toward a truly unique contribution to a team ever is?