In Like a Lamb: No Moves, No Trades for the Rockets in 2012 Draft
Pick two came and went. Then pick five. Then seven and eight and it began to dawn on Rockets fans: For all the talk of trades for Dwight Howard and moving up into the top ten of the draft, Houston, a team mired in mediocrity, would stand pat and roll the dice with picks 12, 16 and 18. In fact, there were far fewer trades on draft night than predicted, so Daryl Morey and company were not alone.
Rockets' first pick, Jeremy Lamb.
And though their choices offer an intriguing mix of skills, the biggest story of the night was the lack of a big story. Earlier in the week, the team dealt forward Chase Budinger to Minnesota for pick 18 and Samuel Dalembert to Milwaukee for pick 12, fueling speculation that Morey would package picks and players -- including disgruntled point guard Kyle Lowry -- to get as many as two picks in the top ten, perhaps as high as number two. All indications are they tried to do just that as they have on several different draft nights in the last few years, but failed and were left to stay where they were.
Having three picks in the first round hasn't exactly boded well for the crew at Toyota Center. In 2001, the team traded their three picks, which included talented forward Richard Jefferson for Eddie Griffin, who never developed and, tragically, was killed in 2007. Prior to that, the Rockets' 1998 draft included Michael Dickerson -- he would later be traded in the Steve Francis deal -- Bryce Drew and Mirsad Türkcan, who never played for the team.
Twitter and message boards were inundated with dismayed fans who believe there is no way the Rockets can keep all three players they drafted given the number of players on the roster already -- they got three in the Dalembert trade. But, for now, team officials are insisting they expect all three picks to be in camp along with Donatas Montejunas, the talented European big man they took in the 2011 draft, even though Coach Kevin McHale said he was disappointed a couple of trades for veterans fell through.
Here's the rundown on Thursday night's picks.
12. Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn -- 6'5" 179lbs
Lamb is a slick scoring guard some have compared to Reggie Miller, though that would likely be on the very high side of his potential. A better comparison would be to a guy currently on the team's roster, Kevin Martin. An explosive athlete with great range on his shot, Lamb should have little problem scoring at the next level. He could be particularly effective coming off screens with a serious midrange game. He's barely 20 years old, which leaves him a lot of room to grow, and he'll need to do that if he wants to compete on the defensive end of the floor.
He is very slight and needs to put on weight. He also didn't go the line much in college because he isn't really a dribble penetrator. He won't be a guy that creates his own shot, but should be a very good offensive weapon in a team concept.
16. Royce White, SF, Iowa State -- 6'8" 261lbs
White may be one of the most unique talents in the draft and one of the most interesting individuals. Though he is generally listed as a small forward, he has the body of an undersized four, but has the game of a guard. Some have referred to him as a point forward because his ball handling and passing skills are outstanding.
He runs the floor and is explosive around the rim -- think Charles Barkley in Philadelphia. He will create some interesting matchup problems on the offensive end of the floor. Where White may struggle is on defense. He likely doesn't have the lateral quickness to guard threes and is undersized at the four. He also has been open about suffering from general anxiety disorder, which, among other things, has left him with a fear of flying. If the Rockets can figure out what to do with him, he could be one of the more interesting acquisitions of the entire draft. Also of note, he's a quote machine and should be a fan and media favorite from day one.