How Royce White Can Help the Houston Rockets Long-Term

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2012

Lost in the chaos that has become the Royce White debacle for the Houston Rockets is the reality that he can actually help the team. A lot.

Though White and the Rockets continue to struggle to iron out the details behind both parties successfully coping with his anxiety issues, there is hope that the forward will eventually return to the team.

According to Jonathan Feigan of the Houston Chronicle, while there is no timetable behind said return, Houston remains optimistic that the two sides can work something out:

The Rockets have no timetable for rookie Royce White to return to the team but have been in talks with him in hopes of working things out.

With three off days before the Rockets play again Tuesday, there would seem to be a window for White to practice, but he and the team have not come together on when he will rejoin the team’s workouts.

“We’re continuing to talk things through with Royce,” general manager Daryl Morey said. “The goal is to get him back to a standard operating place as a player. We’re talking this through.”

Much attention has been paid to why White continues to miss time, but not much thought has been put into what the Rockets are missing in White.  He's an essential point forward who can run the offense in a pinch, a staunch defender on both the inside and out and can put up points in a hurry.

Does his jump shot need work and is his free-throw shooting laughable? Absolutely, but there's no question his abilities turn the Rockets into a more formidable opponent both now and for the foreseeable future.


Because Houston needs someone to anchor in its second unit.

Houston's bench is putting up just 28.2 points per contest thus far, the fifth-lowest mark in the league. And while both Toney Douglas and Marcus Morris have been bright spots, neither is the facilitator that White has the potential to be.

Sure, boasting the likes of James Harden and Jeremy Lin have been great for the Rockets. The two are tested playmakers and can do a great job running the offense.

But they cannot be relied upon too heavily. Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik have emerged as bright spots within the starting lineup to help alleviate the offensive burden upon these two, yet Houston still needs a versatile threat coming off its bench. 

Enter White.

Essentially, the rookie is a more gritty version of Andre Iguodala. Or rather, think of his value from a supporting cast standpoint. His talent level suggests he can provide a star punch off the bench; he can be to the Rockets what James Harden was to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

How could that not help Houston?

Yes, his ceiling is believed to fall short of star potential, but there's no denying his promise as a pillar.

His superior ball-handling and court vision ensures that he can run the offense when Douglas is struggling, and his ability to attack the rim and overall post presence enhances an already impressive interior attack. Houston is averaging the fifth-most points in the paint per game at 45.1, and White would only further such a cause.

The same goes for his rebounding. White grabbed 9.3 boards per game in his only season at Iowa State and would serve as a rebound-hoarding staple where just two players average more than five per game.

Let's not neglect to mention White's value from a defensive standpoint either. Aside form Asik, the Rockets do not have what you call capable defenders, Harden and Lin included.

White changes this. He can body up in the post or step out on the perimeter. He can use his superior anticipation and understated quickness to man guards.

As bright as Houston's outlook may be with Harden, Lin and even Parsons in tow, this team's future success is not written in stone. The Rockets have clear holes down the bench and are also one of the more porous defenses in the NBA.

Of course, Houston can and will also look outside the organization for help. It cannot plug every one of its holes using in-house prospects, after all.

But White is one of the exceptions. His value from a versatility standpoint is not to be discounted, even as a neophyte. His jump shot may be broken, but he has the potential to add a valuable scoring and playmaking punch off the pine, as well as instantly become the team's best perimeter defender.

And the Rockets need every one of those things. They need an identity to help carry their second unit; they need a versatile, two-way presence who can serve as a pillar for the future, not merely a stopgap in the interim.

They need White, the player they drafted just outside the lottery.

We're not talking about an athlete who will have a minimal effect on Houston's future. We're talking about a premier talent, who is rough around some mechanical edges yet stands to make a lasting impact all the same.

There's a reason the Rockets took a chance on White. There's a reason he was considered a lottery caliber talent even after going in the latter half of the first-round.

There's a reason why Houston is so hell-bent on getting him on the floor.

In him, the Rockets see the future. They see someone who can lead the charge of a supporting cast.

They see a proficient athlete who provides the depth that this team will need to turn a proverbial corner and ultimately establish themselves as legitimate contenders.



All stats in this article are accurate as of November 26, 2012.


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