So here we are less than a week away from my personal NBA Christmas -- the NBA Draft.
No big presents under the tree this year for Rockets fans, but we could see a nicely-filled stocking with the "org" holding pick #26. Rockets GM Daryl Morey told us Thursday that from that pick, it's a good draft for "wings and bigs", which sounds a little like a #3 combo at KFC.
Now, anytime you get draft information, you have to take it with a major grain of salt. For weeks we had been hearing that Brandon Roy was the Rockets' draft target with the #8 last year -- which was right -- but then a great source threw us a curve that it was actually Rudy Gay -- which was not right. So it can be hard sometimes to get through the smoke.
But if you want to know the buzz at a minimum, here it is: The guy we consistently hear good things about and the one we hear the Rockets would like to bring back is the Big Baby.
No, no - not Scottie Pippen (rimshot).
LSU's Glen "Big Baby" Davis, a 6-foot-9 and nearly 300-pound forward, impressed the Rockets physically and on the court in his workout with the team earlier this month. One suggested there was a concern that he didn't come off as the sharpest tool in the shed, but as far as his play, he impressed.
The Rockets are currently operating with "WANTED: SIZE" printed on their Jumbotron. Since trading Juwan Howard, the team doesn't have a power forward under contract as even Chuck Hayes is a restricted free agent. A bigger-minute four is likely to come via trade or free agency, but they definitely could use depth at the big spots and Davis is definitely "big".
Don't rule out the marketing factor either. It helps that Davis, with a built-in nick like "Big Baby" and charisma to boot, could boost ticket sales down the line.
For his part, Big Baby told his fans in his draft diary on Tuesday that Houston's workout wasn't easy.
"Houston is the toughest one I've been to," said Davis. "Houston and Chicago. I don't know what made them tougher. The tempo, I guess."
Davis, who came to LSU weighing over 360 pounds and played last year at around 325, slimmed down for the NBA Draft to 289 pounds, so there is some concern about whether he will keep it off or if this a money play.
"I'll keep it off," Davis said. "I'll keep it off until I'm wealthy enough where I can have Big Baby Enterprises, so my kids' kids can be like Paris Hilton and them ... without jail."
He also does not have incredible lift as he relies more on his power game, and for that reason most projected him as a second round pick a month ago. But as we enter the stretch drive, Davis' stock is rising from his workouts and there is talk that he has a first round promise.
The Rockets have been interested in trying to nab a second round pick for some time, so it atleast makes some sense the rumor that John P. Lopez of the Houston Chronicle reported about the Rockets exploring sending Vassilis Spanoulis to the Dallas Mavericks for one of their three second-rounders (#34, #50, #60). We had not heard that rumor specifically, but the Mavs have been looking to trade Jason Terry this summer, which would then in turn make more sense to bring in Spanoulis to back up Devin Harris.
Two other guys we've heard a lot about from a Rockets interest standpoint are Morris Almond and Sean Williams, both of whom seem to be getting a lot of play as prospects who will go before the Rockets select at #26.
Almond, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard out of Rice, can flat out shoot the rock. As a sophomore to senior, Almond hit 46.2%, 44.4% and 45.6% from three-point range respectively (wow), averaging 26.4 points and 6.6 boards a night for the Owls. He's not the best passer, but Almond can really put the ball in the basket and has drawn comparisons to a poor man's Allan Houston or Michael Redd.
Williams, a Houston native, ran in to problems at Boston College and was suspended after an arrest for marijuana possession in May of 2005 and then was kicked off the team for good earlier this year when he failed a drug test. Williams couldn't kick the weed in college, which makes him perfect for the NBA! Scouts are starting to drool over his 6-foot-10 frame and incredible shot-blocking skills and on talent alone he's probably a lottery pick (see Channel 11 video of Williams working out here in Houston).
Draft prospect Dominic McGuire, the 6-foot-8 forward out of Fresno State, when asked by the Fresno Bee this week what NBA teams would fit his style the best:
"The system I feel like I would fit the best in is the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets or the Golden State Warriors, any team that basically runs and gets up and down," said McGuire. "I feel like I would be a perfect fit for them."
Yeah, you read that right. Last season that would have been like adding David Carr to a short list of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady of the NFL's most poised quarterbacks, but McGuire including Houston was not likely a slip of the tongue. The Rockets are making it clear in draft workouts that they're not going to be a slow, half-court team any longer.