Rockets Summer League Roster 2013: Biggest Names to Watch for Houston
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One can only read so much into Summer League basketball. The games and practices aren't nearly as intense as they are during the regular season, and the majority of players are undrafted free agents attempting to showcase their talents to teams both near and far.
This, of course, leads to mediocre (but mildly entertaining) play for virtually everyone involved. Yet, there will still be a few standouts on each team who are worthy of a much longer look at training camp. The Houston Rockets have several players who fit that criteria, and it wouldn't be a shock if several of them wound up developing into serious contributors this season.
5) Robert Covington
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The Houston Rockets clearly see something in former Tennessee State forward Robert Covington—otherwise, they wouldn't have signed him to a partially guaranteed, two-year deal.
The 6'8" Covington went undrafted in June, but it didn't take long for him to make his presence felt down in Orlando. In just his third game, Covington scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 24 minutes off of the bench.
On a team loaded with forwards, Covington clearly has his work cut out for him this summer. But don't be surprised to see him end up with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers—Houston's D-League affiliate—once the regular season kicks off.
4) Greg Smith
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Greg Smith has all of the tools to be a legitimate backup center in the NBA. The only problem is that Houston now has two All-Star caliber centers on the roster: Dwight Howard and Omer Asik.
As it stands now, Smith figures to get most of his minutes next season at the power forward spot. At 6'10", he's got the perfect size to defend opposing 4s, but will have to work on his low-post game in order to become a consistent threat offensively. According to Synergy Sports, Smith averaged just 0.7 points per possessions in post-up situations last year.
The smart money says that Houston moves Asik this summer, freeing up some playing time for Smith. But until then, the 22-year-old center will continue to turn heads with his inspired play in the Orlando Summer League.
3) Patrick Beverly
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Three years after he was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009, Patrick Beverley finally got a chance to show his wares on the NBA level during the 2012-13 campaign.
Beverley had a pedestrian run as the Rockets' backup point guard prior to the playoffs, but in the postseason, the 24-year-old guard was Houston's fourth-leading scorer (11.8 PPG) during the team's first-round series against Oklahoma City.
Although Beverley is already entrenched as the Rockets' primary backup to Jeremy Lin, the former University of Arkansas standout is getting valuable experience running the point down in Orlando.
2) Vander Blue
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Many basketball fans were first introduced to Vander Blue after his game-winning layup sealed a 59-58 victory for Marquette in the second round of the NCAA Tournament this past March.
So consider the Orlando Summer League the second part of Blue's coming out party. The 6'6" wing needs significant work on his jump shot, but his quickness and length make him an above-average defender who just might be able to stick on an NBA roster.
After just two appearances, Blue left the Rockets to join the Memphis Grizzlies in the Vegas Summer League. So if Houston thinks that the 20-year-old Blue might figure into their long-term plans, they may want to lock him up as soon as his stint in Sin City is over.
1) Terrence Jones
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Terrence Jones didn't exactly live up to expectations as a rookie, but he's been the unquestioned star of the Rockets' Summer League entry so far.
Jones' performance shouldn't be all that surprising: He was a pretty effective option last season whenever he was the beneficiary of significant playing time. In eight appearances during the month of April, Jones averaged 8.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field.
This summer, Jones leads the Rockets with 15.8 PPG, and he has even chipped in 7.0 RPG for good measure. Houston's frontcourt is a bit crowded following the addition of Dwight Howard, but Jones' play this past week may have earned the second-year forward a spot in Kevin McHale's rotation.