With the 2010 NBA Draft Lottery officially in the books, it’s time now to take a look at where the Houston Rockets stand come draft day this summer.
Houston garnered the No. 14 overall pick at Tuesday’s lottery (just as the stats predicted), and with a team striving to succeed in the ever-competitive Western Conference, it’s vital that general manager Daryl Morey and the Rockets choose wisely.
With the Washington Wizards shocking the sports world by walking away with the No. 1 pick—and likely stealing away Kentucky star John Wall from the New Jersey Nets and their new owner—it’s time now to take a look at who may be available come pick No. 14, and who the Rockets should nab come draft day.
It’s fairly obvious that Houston will be going after a big man, both in regards to having someone beyond Yao Ming carry the load at center (not to mention the question marks around how long he’ll be sticking around in Rockets red) in addition to adding a needed larger presence in the paint.
Here are five prime-time big guys the Rockets may be able to sign in this summer’s NBA Draft…
Though it’s probably a long-shot for Ekpe Udoh to still be available come pick No. 14 when the NBA draft tips off on June 24, the Rockets should absolutely consider taking the former Baylor big man when Houston’s name is announced at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Udoh, a 22-year-old, 6'10" forward, helped propel the underdog Bears all the way to the Elite Eight this past season under head coach Scott Drew.
And Udoh would be a welcome addition—bringing solid defense as well as an offensive threat—to a team in desperate need of a team-oriented big man.
Last year with Baylor (his junior season because of having to sit-out for one year after transferring from Michigan), Udoh averaged 13.9 points per game while pulling down 9.8 rebounds per contest.
Predicted to go anywhere from No. 12 to No. 15 in the 2010 NBA Draft, Marshall big man Hassan Whiteside is a viable option for the Rockets to consider taking with their No. 14 pick on June 24.
Whiteside, a 20-year-old, 6'11" center, was a vital part of Marshall’s success this past season and is predicted to be taken as a lottery pick at this summer’s NBA Draft.
In his 2009-10 season with the Thundering Herd, Whiteside averaged 13.1 points per game while grabbing 8.9 rebounds per contest.
[Photo Courtesy of Google Images Search]
It may not be John Wall, but Kentucky’s going to have a crop of players signed as lottery picks come this summer’s NBA Draft—including the possibility of Houston signing Wildcats center Daniel Orton.
Orton, a 19-year-old, 6'10" center, was one of many key components to a highly-successful NCAA Tournament run by the Kentucky Wildcats; and many experts predict the young big man to be taken as a lottery pick in this summer’s draft.
Last season with the Wildcats, Orton averaged just 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a freshman—but he’s got a huge upside once he’s molded into an NBA-caliber player.
Predicted by many NBA scouts to be a lottery pick in this summer’s draft, a lot of analysts believe the Rockets will sign Lithuania’s Donatas Motiejunas (pictured in the intro to this slideshow) as the No. 14 pick.
Motiejunas, a 19-year-old, 7'0" forward out of Lithuania, is predicted to be chosen as the No. 14 pick by ESPN’s Chad Ford’s mock draft.
And weighing in at 220 pounds, it may be a wise decision for the Rockets to sign the Lithuanian PF at this summer’s NBA draft.
Statistically speaking, Motiejunas averaged 9.9 points per game (30 games played) this past season for Italy’s Benetton Treviso, shooting 59.2 percent from the field while draining 32.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Although Houston will likely take one of the four aforementioned names (or none of the above with how sneaky Morey can be with his under-the-radar picks and signings), another option for the Rockets to consider signing with their No. 14 pick would be Nevada’s Luke Babbitt.
Babbitt, a 20-year-old 6'9" forward, is predicted by experts to be a mid to late first round pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.
The former Nevada forward, Babbitt averaged 21.9 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per contest last season with the Wolf Pack; he also shot 41.6 percent from three-point range during his sophomore campaign in 2009-10.
And Babbitt may be a good fit to an awkward puzzle in Houston, as Morey and the Rockets search for answers on how to compete—and win—in the NBA’s Western Conference.
Regardless of whom they choose, the Rockets are heading in the right direction.
My hope is Houston will sign a big man that can make an immediate impact on the team—both in the locker room and on the hardwood…
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at email@example.com