Before you could blink there were 100 users in the clutchcity.net chat room Wednesday night, absolutely destroying the old record of 70+, and when the Rockets pick was announced there were 137 of us in the room.
After the Rockets selected Minnesota center Joel Przybilla with the 9th pick, there were about as many groans as there were cheers. As the draft continued, many started to warm up to the thought of Joel in Houston.
|The Rockets drafted Joel Przybilla (above) with the 9th pick and Eduardo Najera (below) with the 38th pick before shipping them to Milwaukee and Dallas respectively|
However, when they shipped his big rear off to Milwaukee for a total stumper of a pick, expected to go closer to the second round, the chat room absolutely erupted.
The Rockets had done it yet again. Rodrick Rhodes, Bryce Drew, Mirsad Turkcan and Kenny Thomas? Meet Jason Collier.
Yet another 4-year senior, not expected to go anywhere near as high as he did and ends up wearing the Jetsons uni.
But this was what we went through all the losing for? Remember Lottery Race 2000? Mock Draft Madness? Endless speculation of Houston acquiring a small forward able to hit the triple or cross over his man, or a bruising power forward dunking at will.
What did we get? Jason Collier.
Make no mistake about it. I'd rather watch 72 hours straight of "BattleField Earth" than watch the Clippers pillage the draft and the Rockets come away with the Georgia Tech product again, but alas, there may be a method to Rudy T's madness.
The bottom line is the Rockets didn't like what they saw left at #9. They weren't overly thrilled with Jerome Moiso and apparently didn't have a good trade lined up for a prospect like Courtney Alexander. They wanted the impact SF -- Miles, DerMarr or Miller -- or one of the Big Three power forwards in this draft, but as one source put it, "Those draft hopes were over for the Rockets once the Hawks took DerMarr Johnson."
So they struck the deal with Milwaukee -- in fact the Rockets never selected Przybilla. That pick was made entirely by the Bucks. Naturally that wasn't public info, so when the Bucks took Collier at #15, most felt someone was spiking the cheese in Wisconsin.
Nope, just Rudy T fellas. Don't mind us.
The good part of this deal is the Rockets get an extra first rounder for moving down 6 slots in the draft. George Karl's Gang now owes the Rockets a first round pick that must be Milwaukee's (can't be acquired from some other team and be conveyed -- must be the Bucks' pick) next season, however it is Top 10-protected. If it's in the Top 10 it stays with Milwaukee and then we go through the same routine in 2002... 11 or beyond it heads south. It is Top 10 protected until 2007, but most likely it will come next season since Milwaukee is a young playoff team.
The Rockets felt chemistry was the most important issue here, and they believe Collier will be a good role player around the likes of Steve Francis, Shandon Anderson and Cuttino Mobley. He'll set the screens, do some of the dirty work and as CD says, the guy can shoot the rock.
The Rockets didn't say it, but it's there: This is all geared at the offseason of 2001. So much so in fact I now actually wonder if the Rockets will use the trade exception at all so as not to take on more salary. They now have, most likely, 2 mid to lottery draft picks in their own and Milwaukee's next season, and potential picks from Orlando and Detroit in a draft many experts feel will be very deep.
With Hakeem Olajuwon planning retirement after this coming year, don't be surprised if the Rockets start to seek players with one year left on their deals.
And though it's a huge stretch, if Tim Duncan signs a one-year deal with San Antonio, you can bet the Rockets will be firing on all cylinders to get that cap space ready next summer.
|15. Jason Collier, Georgia Tech|
Just a hunch, but based on what Jonathan Feigen had reported about the Rockets wanting Etan Thomas, it sounds as if the Mavericks may have thrown a wrench in the works taking him at #12. The Rockets, most likely, were hoping he would slide to 15.
|Collier has no problems scoring from the outside, even as a 7-foot 250 pounder|
You can read quite a bit on Collier in his clutchcity.net player profile -- at 7'0, 250 pounds, Collier has the bulk. He can score, as evidenced by his 17+ points per game scoring average last season, and for a 7-footer is a terrific shooter. He has hit between 38% and 40% the past two seasons from long range.
In that regard he is the ideal fit for a Rudy T-coached team. He can play both the PF and C slot, he can stretch the interior defense with his shooting and he'll help free the guards with picks and screens.
Though one knock seems to be his speed and agressiveness, one source claims the Rockets were thrilled/surprised with how well he ran the floor in workouts. Well enough to get out and run with the likes of the Rockets backcourt trio? That remains to be seen.
The Rockets lost out defensively giving up Przybilla for Collier, but gained substantially in the offensive department.
The Rockets drafted Oklahoma's Eduardo Najera with the 38th selection in the draft and many felt the Rockets were content in keeping him, but instead they shipped him to Dallas, along with a future second round pick, for Dan Langhi, who the Mavs took at #31.
|Langhi averaged over 22 points per game for Vanderbilt last season|
That was no surprise at all.
Langhi tore it up for the Rockets in workouts, absolutely shooting the lights out. At 6'11" and 220 pounds with marksman's eye, most would compare Langhi to current Rocket Matt Bullard, and they wouldn't be far off.
Langhi was the SEC Player of the Year last season, averaging over 22 points per game for Vandy, also connecting on over 40% of his trifectas and nearly 48% from the field. He also hit 87% from the charity stripe.
He can score. In bunches. Said South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler, "The best way to stop Langhi is to pray."
Well, OK, lets not go that far as to call on the Big Man here in that regard. Langhi is no power forward, and like Bullard is considered more of a very tall small forward who can tickle the twine from long range. He has decent handles and is considered by many to be a smart player.
However, he's no big time rebounder, passer or for that matter, a stellar defender. He's going to have to work on those facets unless he wants to come in for nothing more than shooting situations.
I'm not going to lie or sugar coat this like some: This was an average to below average draft. Collier may turn out to be a decent player but he's not the quality of player you would expect to receive as a result of a big losing season. The Rockets got a guy they wanted in Langhi, but how big of a role he'll play on a team with already one Matt Bullard is not yet known.
The real test of this draft will come in how well the Rockets set themselves up for next summer as a result of trading down (smaller salary on the cap) and acquiring another first rounder.
But until then the Rockets can expect, and probably deserve, fan criticism.
Clutch Grade: C-