With the Tennessee Volunteers making it to the Sweet 16 behind the fantastic play of Jarnell Stokes, Jordan McRae took a back seat to his teammate when it came to the national spotlight. After his second place finish in scoring in the SEC in the 2012-13 college basketball season, he improved his average scoring by nearly three points during the 2013-14 campaign.
However, when it comes to the 2014 NBA Draft, the buzz around him seems to be rather quiet. It seems to be a consensus thought by NBA Draft experts that he will go somewhere in the middle of the second round selected by a team with an already decent roster. When you take a quick look around the league, the teams that look like they would be a good fit for McRae seem to be the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Oklahoma City Thunder and possibly the Chicago Bulls.
However, the first team that comes up in the draft that could take McRae’s game to the next level seems to be the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets fell out of the 2014 NBA Playoffs due to a Damian Lillard buzzer-beater in Game 6, but their roster is still stacked and ready for another playoff run in 2015. They don’t need McRae to be great in order to have success, and that is exactly why he will flourish.
Take a look at Houston’s leading scorer from last season, James Harden. In college, Harden, who is an inch shorter, averaged 0.3 points more per game, one rebound more per game and one assist more per game than McRae. However, throughout his career, McRae has been a far more explosive on the glass, having multiple “posterizing” dunks. Like Harden, he has long arms that make him elusive when taking it to the hoop and allow for him to raise up higher than his defender to drain the three.
I’m not saying that McRae is the second-coming of Harden, but if Houston were to draft him in the second-round, he would be able to learn from a player who plays a similar style of basketball and improve his skill while either sitting on the bench or playing limited minutes.
For teams like Houston with a solid core of proven winners, the NBA Draft isn’t about hitting it off big with some superstar that got overlooked; it’s about finding that extra depth that will keep your team in a good position to win games while your stars are resting on the bench. McRae, as he proved time and time again over his career with the Vols, could be exactly that and more for the Rockets.
If McRae falls to Houston, the Rockets could finally find that missing piece they needed to beat teams like the Trail Blazers and Spurs come playoff time next season so get your 2014-15 Rockets tickets today!