Countdown to 2013 King of Content: 5. Royce White
I know right about now, after he assembled a roster that includes the acquisition of arguably the two best players in the league at their respective positions within nine months of each other, that to say, "Hey, not all of Daryl Morey's moves have been that great" sounds like blasphemy.
But, it's worth noting, Morey did use a first round draft pick on Royce White in 2012. Hey, nobody's perfect.
(NOTE: Admittedly, Morey has been damn near perfect, on the sliding scale of perfection you'd apply to sports GMs, over the past couple of years in assembling this roster, and truth be told, what you're about to read has head coach Kevin McHale's fingerprints on it as well.)
In the 2012 draft, the Rockets went into draft night with three first round picks, the 12th, the 16th and the 18th picks overall. Conventional wisdom had them flipping those picks for a higher pick or an impact player, but instead they went ahead and, surprisingly, used all three selections.
At 12, they drafted UConn shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, who became an integral part of the trade that brought James Harden to Houston in late October.
At 18, they drafted Kentucky forward Terrence Jones, who has become a key rotation player this season, and looks like a budding star.
And then at 16, they drafted Iowa State's Royce White, who for the Rockets became a walking migraine, a human hemorrhoid and a poster child for how not to handle mental illness with your employer.
College basketball fans had become quite familiar with White during 2012's March Madness, when for about 30 minutes he was the best player on the floor in a "round of 32" (hate calling it "third round"...HATE) game against eventual champion Kentucky (a team that included not only Jones but future first overall pick Anthony Davis). He led the Cyclones that season in scoring, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.
White was a stat sheet stuffer extraordinaire. But he also dealt with an anxiety disorder that made it, at best, difficult for him to fly to games on airplanes, which is, y'know, kind of necessary if you're going to have a career in Houston, where the closest NBA city is 200 miles away. The Rockets obviously felt they had done sufficient due diligence, and as seen in a Grantland piece following White's draft night travails, it became obvious that White had an advocate in the Rockets' war room that night in Kevin McHale, who had worked with White's college coach, Fred Hoiberg, in their Minnesota Timberwolves days.