With a plethora of young talent joining a solid core of voiced veterans on next year’s Houston Rockets basketball team, it’s time to take a look at five up-and-coming players to watch this season.
And from rookie Patrick Patterson to on-the-rise stars such as Chase Budinger and Aaron Brooks, the Rockets youngsters are bound to make some major noise this season as the team prepares for a postseason run.
With that in mind, let’s quickly count down Houston’s top five young players—along with an honorable mention—to keep an eye on during the 2010-11 NBA season…
Although he has just one year of experience as an NBA player, Jermaine Taylor carries himself as a veteran time and time again.
Through 31 games with the Rockets last season, the Houston backup guard averaged 4.1 points per game while shooting 71.7 percent from the charity stripe.
In addition, Taylor shot 37.8 percent from the field during the 2009-10 NBA season and averaged 1.50 rebounds per game.
Look for Taylor to have some opportunities to increase his playing time during the 2010-11 season as he aims to be a bigger part of Houston’s future plans.
One of the newest members of the Houston Rockets, Courtney Lee, is entering just his third season in the NBA.
But don’t overlook his two years of professional experience on the hardwood, as Lee joins a young and talented team in Houston.
Last season with the New Jersey Nets, Lee averaged 12.5 points per game while dishing out 1.7 assists per contest.
In addition, Lee pulled down 3.50 rebounds per game; he also shot 86.9 percent from the free throw line, 33.8 percent from beyond the arc, and 43.6 percent from the field.
And Lee should be a great addition to an upbeat and energized Rockets basketball team, as the third year guard/forward aims to make a name for himself in Houston.
Jordan Hill, in conjunction with teammate Taylor, is entering his second season in the NBA after averaging 16.2 minutes per contest with the Rockets last year through 23 games.
Hill also averaged 6.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in a Houston jersey, draining 53.2 percent of his shots with the Rockets.
Through split time with both the New York Knicks and Houston, Hill averaged 5.2 points and 3.70 rebounds per game.
Look for Hill to play a much more vital role on the 2010-11 Rockets team, as the youthful forward/center aims to improve on a highly successful 2009-10 campaign.
Rockets rookie Patrick Patterson may end up being one of the best first round draft picks in Houston basketball history.
And after being picked well after an array of college freshman teammates, Patterson is the veteran of a Kentucky core, taken in the opening round of the 2010 NBA Draft.
As a junior at Kentucky, Patterson averaged 14.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while draining 34.8 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, in his first taste of NBA action in the 2010 Summer League, Patterson averaged 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game (seeing action in five contests) while playing 28.2 minutes per game.
Patterson should mesh perfectly with the new-look Rockets team, especially with veterans such as Shane Battier and a hands-on coach like Rick Adelman involved in the process.
Look for Patterson to make a bang in his rookie campaign on the 2010-11 NBA hardwood, as the former Kentucky star aims to prove his worth in the pros.
Personally, I’m already damn impressed by Patterson.
And I truly can’t wait to watch him perform night-in and night-out for the Rockets this season.
Arizona alum Chase Budinger (joining teammate Hill as a member of the 2008-09 Wildcats basketball team) has every reason to be a starting forward this season for the Houston Rockets.
Last season with the Rockets, Budinger averaged 8.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 77.0 percent from the charity stripe.
And those numbers should improve during the 2010-11 season.
Budinger is a very hard worker, and his diligence in the offseason and practices should pay off this coming season with the Rockets.
Look for Budinger to have an opportunity to become part of the starting five as a forward for Houston this season, and don’t be surprised when he flourishes in that role as well.
With three seasons now under his belt, Aaron Brooks is quickly transforming from youngster to veteran in the NBA.
And after back-to-back solid seasons following his rookie debut, Brooks is set to truly take off in the 2010-11 season with the Rockets.
Last season with Houston, Brooks averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per game while seeing action in all 82 regular season NBA games.
In addition, Brooks shot 39.8 percent from beyond the arc and drained 82.2 percent of his free throw attempts.
After taking home the Most Improved Player hardware last season, look for Brooks to solidify himself as one of the best starting guards in the NBA.
And he’ll do it, as always, with a giant smile and a passion for the game of basketball.
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org