Sunday, June 08, 2008

Here's the deal with the draft...

It's time for Rockets fans to get realistic. By the 25th pick in the draft, there will be no starters available. Not even any real starter projects. So it seems that the only holes that can be plugged via the draft are with backup players and overall depth.

Fortunately for the Rockets, the biggest hole in their lineup is at backup center and there are a number of college players that could fit that mold. Even if Mutombo can be productive for one more year, they will need one soon anyway. There are a number of "project" centers out there that could back up Yao for several years.

Among the centers that have declared for the draft, only Brook Lopez of Stanford is a consensus top 10 pick. The rest seem to be all over the board on most mock drafts. Most likely, DeAndre Jordan (Texas A&M), Kevin Love (UCLA), Kosta Koufos (Ohio State), Marreese Speights (Florida) and Javale McGee (Nevada) will all be gone by the time the Rockets get to pick, but that still leaves some prospects. The downside is that prospects have holes in their game that may or may not be fixable, bit still require first-round money and guarantees.

Some of the rest of the centers likely to be selected in the draft:

Roy Hibbert (Georgetown)
Robin Lopez (Stanford)
Jason Thompson (Rider)
Devon Hardin (California)
Alexis Ajinka (International - France)
Ante Komic (International - Croatia)

I suggest the Rockets bring Dikembe back for one more year (if he's amenable), take the top center remaining and give him a year of seasoning behind the two veterans. It may pay dividends down the road or even sooner if Yao goes down again.

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