With the 34th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets selected Isaiah Canaan out of Murray State University. the 6-foot point guard was a two-time Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year and a consensus second team All-American in 2012.
Canaan played all four years of college and averaged double figure scoring every season. In his junior year, he averaged 19 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 45.6 percent from the three-point line. In his senior season, he saw his points go up to 21.8 but his shooting percentage suffered. His three-point percentage fell to 37 and he dropped from 46.8 percent from the field to 43.1 percent.
Canaan is a shoot first point-guard who is better suited for a sixth man role. He is an excellent jump shooter, especially off the dribble, and has very deep range. He ranked number one in all of college basketball last season in points per possession when shooting off the dribble according to Synergy Sports Technology. He is also very good at catching the ball and shooting and has a very quick release and follow through when he shoots.
The downside to Canaan’s game is that he isn’t very athletic and doesn’t possess the first quick step that most NBA point guards do. Although he does have a quick dribble, he doesn’t get the separation from a defender that is needed to draw double teams or force switches on pick and rolls. This will make it incredibly tough for him to play point guard on most teams but not in Houston. James Harden does the majority of the ball handling anyways, so Canaan can focus more on shooting and less on playmaking.
Although Canaan signed with Houston, he was unable to play in Summer League this year because of an ankle injury. This may cost him his chance of making the roster and he definitely won’t be in the initial rotation this year with Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley ahead of him on the depth chart. I expect for Canaan to spend a lot of time in the D-League this year working on his ability to play point guard and set up his teammates. If there is an injury to Lin or Beverley, he could see some time as a backup point guard and get limited minutes.