With time running out – we will start moving to 2 of these posts a day to finish all the teams before the draft.
With an injured Yao Ming, and the hurt, and then shipped to NY, Tracy McGrady, the Rockets went through some tough stretches last season, yet they still almost made the playoffs. GM Daryl Morey now has the luxury of a lottery pick to add to a team looking for redemption after last season. So what are Morey’s options here?:
Returning Players- Yao Ming (C – Player Option); Kevin Martin (SG); Shane Battier (SF); Jared Jeffries (PF – Player Option); Trevor Ariza (SF); Jordan Hill (PF); David Andersen (PF); Chuck Hayes (PF – Team Option); Kyle Lowry (PG – Qualifying Offer); Aaron Brooks (PG); Jermaine Taylor (SG); Chase Budinger (SG)
Team Payroll (12 Players) – $58,094,278
Estimated Salary Cap – $56,000,000
Team Needs- Backup Center, eventual Yao replacement;
Position Needs – C
Picks – 1st Round (#14)
Analysis- Last season proved that the Rockets have one giant need – a competent replacement for Yao Ming when he is injured, which is becoming more and more frequent as the years go on. Having the last pick in the lottery, the Rockets are in the unique position of most likely having the choice of two very raw but potentially game-changing centers – Hassan Whiteside and Daniel Orton. Whiteside could act as a large defensive presence immediately, and possibly spelling Yao for long periods of time. Orton is probably a few years away from becoming a significant contributor on either end, but he could blossom into Yao’s eventual replacement.
The alternative to this scenario is for Daryl Morey to choose the best player available at this point, looking at players such as Luke Babbitt, Gordon Hayward, Avery Bradley or Paul George if they drop to him at 14. Odds are at least 2 of these players will be available at this point.
Either way, I think the Rockets get back into the playoffs next year and whoever they pick here has the opportunity to start their career in a winning environment.