In one of the most highly debated moves of the 2012 NBA draft, the Houston Rockets took a chance on former Iowa State Cyclone forward Royce White. Unfortunately, an unforeseen turn of events has led to White approaching the end to his career before it could even begin.
No matter how bad it may be, don't write him off just yet. It's far too soon to call White a draft bust.
To be fair, we must acknowledge the turbulent road White has taken to his current status as an undeniable disappointment. White began his career by missing the opening of the Rockets' training camp, citing his severe anxiety as his reason for absence (via Fox 26 Houston).
White's next absence was far less forgivable. Upon learning that the Rockets were delegating him to the NBA D-League for further development, White refused to attend practice (via Fox 26 Houston).
Most recently, White claimed that he was willing to walk away from the NBA (via ESPN).
According to Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston, White met with Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to discuss that possibility. As for how those talks went, it has been more of the uncertain same.
NBA sources: Rockets rookie forward Royce White, who is away from the team, met today with GM Daryl Morey. No word on how things went.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) November 20, 2012
As discouraging as this news may be, one cannot stress enough how important it is to display patience in writing him off as a bust. White remains one of the most talented players in this draft class, as his versatility breeds the potential for greatness.
No matter how difficult it may be to take his side, give White the chance to shine if he remains an NBA athlete.
What may be White's greatest strength is how comfortable he is with the ball in his hands. Whether from the top of the key or emerging from the wings, White comes off of screens well and is able to make entry passes that most point guards are unable to.
That comes by virtue of his 6'8" height and 7'0" wingspan.
With the physical tools to succeed, it is no wonder that White was such a highly-regarded player coming out of Iowa State. White is capable of handling the ball with both hands and has the rare knowledge to alternate pass types.
Whether that's knowing when to utilize a bounce pass into the post or placing a pass into the curling hands of a shooter, White has the skills that most point guards only dream of possessing. This is what separates him from the average point forward.
It's what makes him worth the risk.
Contrary to popular belief, being able to fill the role of point forward is not an essential aspect of playing the 3. Although you must be able to handle the ball, facilitating is not necessarily in the job description of a small forward.
White is just one of the capable few who fills said role to perfection. But how does he function at the position itself?
What White's exceptional ball-handling enables him to do is create space between he and a defender. Even when he does not put a move on his man, the simple threat of his ability to take an opponent off of the dribble generates breathing room.
With an uncanny ability to facilitate from the small forward position, that makes White all the more dangerous.
As for White's status as a scorer, he has the versatility to light up the scoreboard from the perimeter and in the paint. White lacks a three-point shot, but his mid-range game is consistent enough to keep opposing defenses on their toes.
With the strength to press an opposing ball handler and lateral quickness to pursue a slasher into the paint, White becomes all the more dangerous. His quick hands also make him a turnover-forcing and shot blocking threat.
As soon as his shot from beyond the arc develops, he'll be one of the top offensive threats at the position.
White may be just 6'8", but he also has a 7'0" wingspan and weighs an overwhelmingly powerful 261 pounds. Throw in his fundamentally sound approach to rebounding, underrated leaping ability and versatile low-post game and you have a legitimate NBA power forward.
Especially as the NBA becomes a league of undersized lineups.
White is solid on the perimeter as a defender but is much more efficient in the post. His quick hands force the opposition to tighten their dribble, thus limiting their leverage and impact when backing down.
One of the various ways in which White overcomes his height disadvantage on the interior.
On the glass, White is much like Jared Sullinger in the sense that he values boxing out his opponent before going up for a rebound. This enabled the former Iowa State Cyclone to average 9.3 rebounds and 2.5 offensive boards during the 2011-12 college basketball season.
It also plays a key role in his offensive attack.
White is exceptional with his back to the basket. He utilizes a variety of spin moves to enter the paint and has an underrated turnaround J. Although his size can be an issue from time to time, he is quite efficient with his hook shot.
Using the glass will do that for a post player.
Due to this unparalleled versatility, it is clear that White could potentially make an impact at the NBA level. Whether or not he will be a star is debatable, but there is no end to the ways that White could be utilized in a rotation.
Which is exactly why he is worth the wait. For now.