2011 NBA Draft Results: Houston Rockets Add Much-Needed Size
While they did not get guys with elite size, they set themselves up with some very good players. They were also involved with a trade, which before they made it had me very worried about the No. 23 overall pick.
They originally picked Nikola Mirotic, who wouldn't have been able to join the team for four years. I was livid because I feel this team is a couple players away from being a playoff contender again. They just needed to add a shot-blocker and a center who can replace Yao Ming on the offensive end.
Let's take a look at their picks.
No. 14 Overall: Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas
Marcus Morris interestingly went behind twin brother Markieff, who was selected by the Phoenix Suns at No. 13. The two shared a great moment when they embraced after Markieff was drafted, with brother Marcus shedding tears.
The two have never played for different teams.
Marcus is widely considered the better of the two brothers, although Markieff was the better low-post defender. Marcus is listed at 6'8.75'', so while his size is an upgrade from Chuck Hayes', I'm not sure he will be able to become the team's everyday starting center.
He also claimed to have wanted to play for the Rockets all along when ESPN's Mark Jones interviewed him. He worked out with the team and they like what he brings to the table offensively.
Morris shot 57 percent from the field in 2010-2011 and was the Big 12 Player of the Year. One thing you get from the Morris twins is all-out play on both ends and terrific scoring and rebounding. He is not an elite defender in the post, but Bismack Biyombo—who went No. 7—was really the only guy of that level.
No. 20 Overall: Donatas Motiejunas, PF/C, Lithuania
The Rockets picked at No. 23 but traded the rights to that pick, the No. 38 pick (which they got back), Brad Miller and a future first-round pick (one they had from the Memphis Grizzlies) to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Jonny Flynn and the rights to Donatas Motiejunas, who was the No. 20 overall pick.
Motiejunas is listed at 7'0'' and is your typical European prospect big man. He has deep range with his jump shot, but is a below-average defender at this point, and probably won't develop any kind of defensive game for a while.
That said, he looks like he can come in and give the Rockets instant offense from the center position. They don't have anyone taller than 6'10" other than Yao Ming and Hasheem Thabeet; Yao will be a restricted free agent on July 1 and is likely not going to play, and Thabeet has zero offensive skill.
The Rockets potentially have a lethal combination at center, the only problem is both guys have to live up to their potential. Nothing I've seen so far leads me to believe that Thabeet is going to be the elite defender everyone thought he would be.
He's too slow for the NBA and can't stay in front of athletic big men—that phrase describes about 95 percent of the NBA centers.
Motiejunas is polished offensively, but he does not play with a fierce competitiveness and appears to not care at times. He is in for a serious attitude adjustment.
He is an elite passer from the post. He has a lot of Pau Gasol in him, he just needs to find Pau's mean streak at some point or he will be the next 7'0'' center to phase out.
Jonny Flynn, PG
In that trade with the 'Wolves, the Rockets got a backup point guard. I guess that means they won't be using the services of Goran Dragic, who actually played pretty well behind Kyle Lowry when the Rockets traded for him in the Aaron Brooks deal.
The Rockets have a ton of guards fighting for minutes. Lowry, Dragic, Flynn, Kevin Martin, Terrence Williams and Courtney Lee are all currently on the Rockets roster and can play the 1 or 2 spot.
Williams could move to small forward, but he has to prove he can guard the 3 position.
I really liked Flynn coming out of college and his potential is high. He has a high basketball IQ after playing with Jim Boeheim at Syracuse and great court vision. His skill set is a lot like Lowry's, but Flynn is a better shooter.
No. 38 Overall: Chandler Parsons, SF, Florida
I'm not really sure I like this pick considering the Rockets really needed paint defenders and didn't get one. There were a couple of projects out there but Parsons has no chance to be that guy for them.
Greg Smith of Fresno State or Jeremy Tyler out of Japan (highly recruited high school player, dropped out to go Pro overseas) would have been better options here.
Parsons is a lengthy small forward who is a smooth scorer, though he didn't load up the stat sheet. He can potentially be a good perimeter defender, but he has a lot of work to do if he wants that distinction.
He averaged 11.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 0.9 steals at Florida, showcasing his versatility.
One thing I will say is that this guy is a worker and he will give it his all on every play. He will strive to always improve on his game and give the Rockets exactly what they expect out of him.
With Chase Budinger entering the starting lineup, the Rockets could use someone to come off the bench and get them points.
Parsons has been working on getting his NBA range down and, like I said, is a smooth scorer who can put the ball on the floor incredibly well for his size. His abilities to stretch the defense with range, penetrate and crash the boards are likely what intrigued the Rockets.
One thing you like about his offensive game is that it seems effortless. However, what worries me is he didn't have a great percentage from three-point range in his senior year—only 37 percent—so you wonder if his range will come along.
Given the negatives, I have to trust general manager Daryl Morey's judgment here. He got value from the pick and it's tended to work out in the past.