COMMENTARY | In lieu of the Houston Rockets drafting the promising Isaiah Canaan in the second round of the 2013 NBA draft, this question arises: Who is the best second-round pick in franchise history?
Drafting and scouting well is a must for teams that are picking in the lottery each year, but, as the San Antonio Spurs have shown, it's just as important for teams looking to stay at the top of the league. The Spurs have amazingly drafted Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, DeJuan Blair, and Nando De Colo all in the second round in the past 15 years.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who haven't made the playoffs since the 2003-04 season, have botched a number of lottery picks over the past decade. The Wolves notoriously traded Brandon Roy for Randy Foye on draft day in 2006, and then followed their blunder the next season by taking Corey Brewer over Joakim Noah. To make matters worse, in the 2009 draft, the Wolves took Jonny Flynn (a fringe NBA player) over Stephen Curry, and then took Wesley Johnson (a one-trick pony) over DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe and Paul George in the 2010 draft.
While San Antonio has displayed excellence on draft night, and Minnesota has struggled mightily, the Rockets have seen their fair share of ups and downs. In recent history, the Rockets actually traded both Rudy Gay and Nicolas Batum on draft night, taking back Shane Battier for Gay while receiving just Donte Greene and Joey Dorsey for Batum. However, overall, they have drafted well over the course of their history, as three fantastic second-round picks have turned into very important players for the franchise.
Without further ado, here are the three best second-round picks in Rockets history:
3. Robert Reid, 40th overall in the 1977 NBA draft
Reid, a 6-8 wing man, went on to be an intricate part of Houston's '81 and '86 teams that made it to the NBA Finals. In the 1980-81 season, Reid peaked statistically, averaging 15.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while appearing in all 82 games. Reid, along with Moses Malone and Calvin Murphy, helped lead the the '81 Rockets, who finished the regular season with a 40-42 record, to three upsets in the Western Conference playoffs before finally losing to the Celtics in the Finals. Reid, ultimately, played 10 seasons in a Rockets uniform, as he bridged the gap between the Moses Malone-led Rockets teams and the Hakeem Olajuwon era, providing Houston with a lot of grit from the wing position.
2. Cuttino Mobley, 41st overall in the 1998 NBA draft
The man they used to call "The Cat" was thrown into the fire as a rookie. During the the strike-shortened 1998-99 season, Mobley started 37 games out of position (he started at point guard but spent the rest of his career as a shooting guard) alongside another rookie, Michael Dickerson, and three of the greatest players of all time in Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley and Olajuwon.
When Houston finally stopped trying to build a winner around "The Dream," Mobley and his buddy Steve Francis served as the backbone of the Rockets for a few years, with Mobley averaging a career-high 21.7 points per game in the 2001-02 season when he played an outrageous 42.1 minutes a night. While Mobley and Francis didn't win a lot of games together, the two were incredibly fun to watch as they had the ability to take over any game if they got hot from outside.
Notable busts from the 1998 draft: Michael Olowokandi 1st overall by the Los Angeles Clippers, Robert Traylor 6th overall by the Dallas Mavericks (although he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Dirk Nowitzki and Pat Garrity)
1. Chandler Parsons, 38th overall in the 2011 NBA draft
In Parsons' first NBA season, he entered a strike-shortened training camp third on the depth chart at small forward behind Chase Budinger and fellow rookie Marcus Morris, who the Rockets' selected in the first round of the same draft. By the seventh game of the season, Parsons was the Rockets' starting small forward, and he has been ever since.
The former Gator, who signed a four-year deal worth less than $4 million in December 2011, has provided Houston with clutch shooting, hard-nosed defense, leadership and cap flexibility. While it's hard to put Parsons ahead of Reid and Mobley, it's more of a leap of faith than anything else; I can't imagine a day where Parsons isn't joining Harden on the wing in Houston. Let's not forget that Parsons played a big role in luring Dwight Howard to Houston, which is something that we might despise him for in time, but, hopefully, that's not the case.
Notable (likely) busts from the 2011 draft (it's hard to say anyone is definitely a bust after just two years, but...): Jan Vesely 6th overall by the Washington Wizards (no one thinks this guy is going to get another contract), Jimmer Fredette 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks (face it, best-case scenario he turns into Steve Kerr).
M. De Moor is an NBA junkie who currently writes about all things NBA on Hoopshabit.com. He has followed the Rockets from the championship days of Hakeem Olajuwon, to the years of Francis and Mobley, through the McGrady and Yao era, and will continue to follow them through Harden and Dwight's reign of destruction.
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- Hakeem Olajuwon
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- Robert Reid