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Feeling a Draft

His number might as well double as the Rockets’ draft day grade.
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I lied. Yesterday, I said the Rockets, despite lacking prime real estate in the NBA draft, were poised to take

a step forward

thanks to the depth of the 2007 class and the fact that a handful of quality players slip through the cracks every year. Well, I was wrong. You’d think by now I would know better than to trust a Houston sports team to execute a slam dunk on draft day.

In one of the more stunning moves of the night, Houston used its first round selection on Oregon point guard Aaron Brooks. On the plus side, his arrival will inject a healthy dose of sorely-needed athleticism into the hometown club. However, his size (he’s 6-0’, 170) will be prove to be a major liability on the defensive end and Brooks isn’t even a true point guard as his paltry assist numbers show (he averaged a mere 4.3 dimes per game during his senior season).

But that’s not all. Brooks joins a now-crowded backcourt that includes Rafer Alston, John Lucas III and newcomer Mike James. This logjam is even more unsettling when you consider that while the Rockets currently possess four point guards (none of whom is a pure point, by the way), they only have one power forward on the roster (that’d be Chuck Hayes, of course).

Actually, make that two.

Minutes after selecting Brooks, Houston swung a deal with Seattle to acquire the first pick of the second round which they used to procure the rights to tough guy Carl Landry. The Purdue product promises to add muscle to the Rockets’ frontcourt, if not excitement.

And finally, Houston wrapped up its draft by selecting Australian shooting guard Brad Newley with the 54th pick. Players chosen this low rarely make any sort of impact and it’s safe to say Newley won’t be the exception. In fact, there’s no guarantee he’s even willing to leave his native country.

Add it all up and it’s difficult to feel as if the Rockets are any closer to competing for a title today than they were this past season. Sure, with good health from T-Mac and Yao (never a given) they may put together a nice 55 win season. But on the list of championship contenders, they still rank behind San Antonio, Dallas, Phoenix and Utah (at least).

In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter. The truly important story from last night’s draft was the birth of the NBA’s next dynasty. What the Portland Trailblazers have accomplished during the last two drafts in nothing short of remarkable. They’re now locked and loaded for a decade of dominance. Write this down: Next season, the Blazers are going to the playoffs and within three years, they’ll be competing for an NBA title.

So you know what that means. Get used to the view from not-quite-good-enough land, Rockets fans. You’re going to be there for quite awhile. – Jason Friedman

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