Isaiah Canaan Primer: Everything You Need to Know About Newest Houston Rocket

Jake Lapin@lapin_62094Correspondent IJuly 2, 2013

Nov 18, 2012; Charleston, SC, USA; Murray State Racers guard Isaiah Canaan (3) reacts after the play during the second half of the Charleston Classic Championship game against the Colorado Buffaloes at TD Arena. Buffaloes won 81-74. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

At the NBA draft, the Houston Rockets only had one pick to spare. With the 34th pick, Houston chose Isaiah Canaan, a point guard from Murray State.

Here's a closer look at the rookie guard and newest member of the Rockets.

The Basics

Position: PG

Age: 22

Height: 6'0''

Weight: 188 lbs.

College Career

After leading his high school team to the Mississippi state championship, Canaan joined the Racers at Murray State. In his four years, the Racers won two OVC Championships, which resulted in two March Madness appearances.

During his senior year, Canaan averaged 21.8 points per game to go along with 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals.

The previous year, Canaan made the Consensus second team All-American. He also won the OVC Player of the Year award during his junior and senior campaigns.


1. Shooting Range:

Canaan is a great shooter from mid-range and from behind the arc.

Last season for the Racers, he shot 37 percent from beyond the arc, which is good but not great. The two previous seasons, however, Canaan shot above 40 percent from the line, which proves he can be a consistent shooter throughout the length of an entire season.

The Rockets attempted the second most threes out of any team last year, so Canaan's shooting ability will be welcomed.

Last season, the Rockets point guards were average three-point shooters. Canaan should be able to earn some minutes this season over Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley because of his three-point success compared to each of the other guards.

Canaan likes to catch and shoot more than shoot off the dribble, which works well with James Harden. In the Rockets' offense, Harden controls the ball to run the pick-and-roll, and he will be able to kick it out to Canaan for the open shot.

2. Attacking the Rim:

Canaan is very aggressive and loves to attack the rim. His quickness and agility allow him to go around defenders and to finish mid-air.

The Rockets love to attack the rim too. In Houston, the offensive system is all about efficiency. The Rockets like to take efficient shots. Stats show that the Rockets take the majority of their attempts at the rim or behind the arc, and they hardly ever take any mid-range jump shots. Canaan's skill set and tendencies will help him fit right in.

Check out some of Canaan's highlights shooting the three and driving to the hoop in the video below. 

3. High Basketball IQ

One of the best things about Canaan is his knowledge of the game. He has those natural instincts that will help him excel in the NBA.

Canaan is very good at running the pick-and-roll, which is perfect for a guard in Houston's offense. He has a good feel for working out of the pick-and-roll with a big man. That innate sense that he has on the court will come in handy when playing for the Rockets, who run very few designed plays.


1. Defense

Canaan really does fit in with the Rockets—maybe a little too well.

The Rockets struggled defensively last season, which is probably an understatement. They ranked second to last defensively in points per game.

Despite his fantastic scoring ability, Canaan has not shown much promise on the defensive end either. There are moments where he gets lazy and doesn't hustle back or forgets to keep an eye on his man. He definitely has a lot of room for improvement on defense.

2. Size

Canaan is only six feet tall—and that's while he's wearing his high-tops.

His size is definitely a disadvantage moving on to the next level. NBA defenses are taller and stronger, and he will have to adjust. He will not be able to finish under the rim as easily with the height and strength of opposing defenses in the NBA.

Shortness is a disadvantage, but it can still be overcome. Many short players have still been successful in the NBA (e.g. Spud Webb, Nate Robinson, Earl Boykins, to name a few).

Canaan will have to make up for his size with his talent and athleticism, and he has the skills to do it.

3. Not a true PG

At Murray State, Canaan was used more as a scorer than a facilitator. In the NBA, he will have to develop into more of a traditional point guard in order to stay in the league.

Canaan is a great scorer, but at his size he doesn't have much of choice other than to play the point. It helps that he has Harden, who will be doing most of the ball-handling; but if he is running the second unit without Harden, then he must become a better facilitator.

He also has been known to settle for bad shots at times, which he needs to work on.


Canaan will not be a consistent player in the Rockets' rotation right away.

He will most likely start the year in Rio Grande Valley for the D-League affiliate Vipers. The Rockets have had many of their young players start out with Rio Grande before making their way into the NBA.

It's hard to predict when Canaan will see some minutes this year for the Rockets because we don't know what the team's final roster will look like. The Rockets are playing the free-agent market and it is uncertain who they will bring in to play alongside James Harden.

Also, depending on who they bring in, it is unclear who may be on the way out.

I predict that Canaan will not see any significant time until later in the season, after he has developed his game and adjusted to the system. Last season, the Rockets did not give many of their rookies significant playing time until much later in the year, and I expect to see the same for Canaan this year.

Once integrated into the rotation, I expect Canaan to be a solid backup point guard that will put up above-average numbers for a guard coming off the bench. He is a great scorer who is playing for a team that loves to run up the scoreboard, so it should only be a matter of time.

If you have a chance, check out Canaan's full scouting report video.


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