Saturday, June 28, 2008

But wait! You also get...

Remember that old Ronco infomercial line? Daryl Morey played Ron Popeil and used his Pocket Fisherman to reel in three picks for one in Thursday's NBA draft.

The opening salvo was to take Nicolas Batum with the 25th pick. Batum is a 6' 8" swingman prodigy from France. He is talented and athletic, but at 19 years old, he is a few years away from being an impact player in the NBA. High risk, high reward - down the road. But the Rockets core is in their prime and the future is now. So Daryl got busy.

He traded Batum to Portland for Darrell Arthur, a 6-9 Sophmore Forward from Kansas. Arthur had dropped from a potential lottery pick to the 27th player taken, ostensibly because of rumors circulating around the league about a possible kidney problem. According to Arthur, it was a moot issue, but his people didn't adequately "get the word out." He was initially selected by New Orleans, then traded to Portland for cash, whence he was traded to Houston for Batum.

But the Rockets never wanted Arthur. Their goal was to trade him to Memphis for the rights to Donte Greene and Joey Dorsey, taken 28th and 33rd respectively, plus a second-round draft choice next year from Memphis. Since Memphis is a young rebuilding team, that choice could be like getting a late first-rounder. Three for one.

Donte Greene is an athletic freshman forward from Syracuse listed by some (including the Rockets) at 6' 11'" but most of the draft gurus say it's more like 6' 9". He has a strong upside, especially for a team that needs backup help at the small forward position. If his attitude is right and he has the mental accuity to match his physical skills, he could learn a lot from Shane Battier and blossom into a serious contributor in the next season or two. But for now, he's young and has some holes in his game. Originally slated by insiders to go anywhere from the lottery to the 20th pick, the Rockets believe they got lucky to acquire him when they did. But teams always say that, don't they?

Joey Dorsey is a banger at the power forward position. Again, listed at 6' 9", he was measured at the combine at only 6' 7". That's still a huge man, but in the NBA trenches, that 2" is a liabilty. The positives are that he is a mature senior from Memphis that could contribute right away. he is a good defender and works hard on the offensive glass. The negatives are that he gets most of his points on put-backs and can't hit a free throw for love nor money. Short, good defender, good rebounder, no offense. Can anyone say Chuck Hayes?

Later in the second round, the Rockets selected Maarty Leunen, a 6' 9" forward from Oregon. Maarty will play overseas for the forseeable future.

As I said in previous posts, I would like to have seen a backup center come our way, but the good ones were gone by the time the Rockets got to play. DeAndre Jordan was still there, but let's just assume there was a good reason for that. He is a project at best and the Rockets knew him pretty well. And, according to Les Alexander, they may not be through dealing. They could still make a trade for a backup big man.

All in all, considering they had only a 25th pick to work with in the first round, the Rockets did very well. They ended up with a 28th, 33rd, and a high second-rounder next year. I was once at a fishing camp with some very drunken anglers. When asked if they had any luck that day, one replied, "Sure! We didn't fall out of the boat or anything!" Success is relative, right Daryl? Good fishing, guys.

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