The Rockets were pretty quiet on draft day, using their two second round picks to select two centers. With the 37th pick the Rockets selected Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku and with the 43rd pick they selected China’s Zhou Qi. Although the Rockets were seen as a team that was likely to move up, it appears that the players that GM Daryl Morey were after weren’t left on the board.
Chinanu Onuaku was an intriguing selection by the Rockets, with only one true center on the books for next season. He’s not exactly a polished offensive presence, as he can basically only score off putback dunks but he was drafted for his impressive defensive attributes. Chinanu is a gifted athlete and he has all the defensive fundamentals down pat. Onuaku seems to draw a lot of comparisons to Clint Capela when he was drafted and is just as raw.
Onuaku looks likely to spend a lot of time with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers unless the Rockets fail to re-sign any of their free agents in the front court, and if they fail to solidify at the center position.
How could we talk about Onuaku without showing you how he shoots free throws, in case you missed the memo, he shoots them underhand.
Actually shooting free throws is so overrated anyway.
After the selection of Chinanu Onuaku using the 43rd pick on Zhou Qi was another interesting decision by the Rockets. QI is an athletic freak, and he has used his 7″7 wing span and speed to develop a reputation as a scary shot blocker in China. Qi is also a willing passer and is able to pick out players with precise passes, but he isn’t elite in this attribute even for a big man. Interesting to note that he also attempts some rip through moves and attempts to try and draw fouls, something which is increasingly useful in the NBA.
Space City Scoop
There are several issues with Qi, hence why he wasn’t selected until late in the second round even with his fantastic upside. Although Qi stands at 7″2, he only weighs in at 219 pounds and has a body fat percentage of 4.85%. He has a very slight frame and is going to get pulverized in the paint by NBA bigs, so strength and conditioning is going to be vital to how he develops. Many draft experts have claimed he will flame out if he can’t get an NBA frame.
It seems likely that Zhou will spend another season in China and look to come over for the 2017-18 season, hopefully he can bulk up and continue to develop before the Rockets bring him over.
The Rockets didn’t end there acquisitions their however, as per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets signed some undrafted free agents.
Interesting to see these additions as they most likely just add some depth for the summer league team, but Gary Payton II is the real intrigue here. Payton was projected to go in the late 40’s and The Vertical had him as number 48 on their draft board.
Payton is an uber-athletic guard out of Oregon State who can only be described as a human highlight reel. He has an insane vertical leap and is easily able to play above the rim and be the finisher for alley oops. He is an elite rebounder for both his height and his position and has the ability to out-jump players who hold better position for the rebound. He is also disruptive defensively, he has a knack of sneaking into the lane and getting steals.
Payton is also lightning quick and excels in transition but he is merely an average creator and struggles in pick and rolls due to his poor jump shot and poor shot selection. He however is a good driver and finisher at the rim, so hopefully if he makes the Rockets roster some strong shot selection principles will help with his efficiency (or lack thereof).
Well there you have it, a recap of a somewhat quiet day at the draft for the Rockets, hopefully Daryl hasn’t lost his ability to find some second round miracles.