Let’s debunk one of the most tired, baseless narratives surrounding the Rockets

Draft picks don't always work out. Photo by Pool/Getty Images.

Earlier this week, the Houston Rockets drafted Kenyon Martin Jr. with the 52nd pick in the second round of the NBA Draft. Welcome to Houston, Kenyon, you'll like it here – warm weather in the winter, fantastic restaurants, lots of concerts, plenty of cultural events and lots to do. Plus you may get to play basketball with former MVP winners James Harden and Russell Westbrook, pending tweets from Adrian Wojnarowski.

Just one word of advice: rent, don't buy.

Borrowing from what Michael Corleone said in Godfather II, if anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it's that Rockets draft picks don't stick around Houston very long.

Over the past decade, the Rockets have made 16 draft picks. Not one of them still plays for Houston. The average time Rockets draft picks lasted in Houston is less than two years. Heck, some of Larry King's eight marriages lasted longer than that.

Here's a look at the last 10 years of Houston's draft selections. It's not exactly the roster of last year's NBA All-Star Game. More like Whatever Happened To …?


With the 14th selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets pick Marcus Morris from the University of Kansas. Morris played 71 games over two seasons, averaged 2.4 and 8.6 points per game in Houston and was sent packing to Phoenix.

Nikola Mirotic of Real Madrid was taken with the 23rd overall pick. He was immediately traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, later to the Chicago Bulls on draft night.

Chandler Parsons was taken with the 38th pick in the second round. The Florida grad played three seasons in Houston before signing with Dallas as a restricted free agent. Houston told Dallas, "good luck with all that, he's all yours." Parsons embarked on an injury-plagued career, most recently appearing in five games and 2.8 scoring average with the Hawks in 2019.


The Rockets selected Jeremy Lamb, shooting guard from UConn with the overall 12th pick. He played six whole games with the Rockets, and was dispatched to OKC with Kevin Martin, two first-round picks and one second-round pick for James Harden.

The Rockets took Royce White from Iowa State with the 16th pick in the first round. He never played for the Rockets after a tumultuous rookie year in the developmental league battling anxiety issues and fear of flying.

The Rockets selected Terrence Jones from Kentucky with the 18th pick in the first round. Jones lasted four mostly injury-plagued seasons in Houston, eventually landing in New Orleans before returning to Houston for two games in 2018 and calling it an NBA career. He currently starts at center for the Mets de Guaynabo in the Baloncesto Superior Nacional in Puerto Rico.


Isaiah Canaan of Murray State was taken by the Rockets with the 34th pick in the second round. He played three seasons at Toyota Center, averaging 4.6 points in 22 games in 2013, 6.3 points in 25 games in 2014, and no points in one game in 2017. Duncan should hire him to endorse their yo-yo's. He made 13 trips between NBA teams and the development league over five seasons.


The Rockets took center Clint Capela of France with the 25th pick in the first round. Capela spent five years with the Rockets, mostly as the "oop" end of alley-oop passes from James Harden. Capela was exiled to the Hawks last year after the Rockets decided to play "small ball."

The Rockets went with guard Nick Johnson with the 42nd pick in the second round. Johnson appeared in just 28 games with the Rockets, averaging 2.6 points. Johnson was traded to the Denver Nuggets the following year, but was waived after only six pre-season games.


Sam Dekker of Wisconsin was selected with the 18th pick of the first round. He played two seasons in Houston before being traded with seven other Rockets for Chris Paul. Most notable factoid from Dekker's career, J.R. Smith said Dekker was the only teammate he ever hated during his near 20-year NBA career. Now playing in Turkey, he recently offered to sign and play with the Milwaukee Bucks "for free."

Power forward Montrezl Harrell, the 32nd overall pick in the second round, lasted only two years in Houston. He was part of the multi-player trade for Chris Paul. Harrell is flourishing with the Clippers, including being named NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2020.


Frontcourt gamble Chinanu Onuaku, the 37th pick in the second round, played a total of six games, averaging 3 points, for the Rockets. He was traded to the Dallas Mavericks who waived him goodbye four days later. He later was signed, and waived, by the Portland Trail Blazers. He now plays in the Croatia pro league.

Center Zhou Qi, the 43rd pick in the second round, played 19 games over two seasons, averaging 1.3 points. He is now back in his native China playing for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, the best team nickname in basketball.


Euro star Isaiah Hartenstein was the 43rd player taken in the second round. After a successful career in Lithuania and Germany, he played only 51 games for the Rockets over two seasons. The Rockets waived him this year during the COVID-19 shutdown. Fun fact: Hartenstein was born in Oregon to a German father and American mother. They moved to Germany when Hartenstein's father signed a deal to play in the German pro league.

The Rockets took small forward Dillon Brooks from Canada with the 45th pick in the second round. He was immediately traded to Memphis, never appearing in Rockets gear - other than a baseball cap on draft night.


The Rockets grabbed De'Anthony Melton from USC with the 46th pick in the second round. He was traded to Phoenix before the season started. Now he's with Memphis, the elephant burial ground of Houston draft picks.


The Rockets had no picks in 2019, making it one of their most successful drafts in recent history.

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Nick Caserio's history of drafting injury prone players has become a problem. Composite Getty Image.

Nick Caserio was hired to serve as the general manager (GM) of the Texans on January 7, 2021. Some saw it as another nod to the organization's obsession with the Patriots. Others saw it as the team finally getting their guy after pursuing him previously. They were even hit with a tampering charge while trying to talk to him about the job. Since he's been on the job, there have been highs and lows.

Recently, the news about Kenyon Green and Derek Stingley Jr put a stain on his tenure. Green was placed on season-ending injured reserve (IR) and Stingley Jr is expected to be placed on IR, likely missing six to eight weeks, per Aaron Wilson. Both guys were Caserio's 2022 first rounders. Both guys are starting to look like busts and have fans a little more than just upset.

Green's case was curious because he was said to have needed surgery before he tore his labrum during the Saints preseason game. He had knee surgery this past offseason. There were knee injury concerns when he was coming out of A&M. Adding to his injuries, Green has played poorly. To make matters worse, the Chargers drafted fellow guard Zion Johnson two picks later. Johnson played all 17 games last season as a rookie at right guard and has moved to left guard this season. The pick used to draft Green was part of a trade back with the Eagles. They used the 13th overall pick to take Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, a guy at a position this team could desperately use.

Stingley Jr was a highly touted recruit coming into LSU as a freshman. He played as well as any corner in the country that year. Oh, and they won a national title with arguably one of the best teams in college football history. His net two years in Baton Rouge were marred with injuries. Some believed his junior year was more him holding back to stay healthy for the draft. It worked because he was taken third overall, one spot ahead of Sauce Gardner. Gardner went on to be an All Pro as a rookie. While he's surrounded by more talent on the Jets' defense, people will forever link them because Stingley Jr hasn't lived up to expectations. He missed six games last season and is set to miss at least that many this season. When he has played, he's looked okay. “Okay” isn't what you want from a guy drafted third overall ahead of the other guy who was widely considered better than him.

For the 2021 draft, Caserio was handcuffed. He had no first or second rounders, and made a few trades that lessened his draft pool from eight to five picks. Of the five guys drafted that year, only Nico Collins seems to be a player. The 2022 draft was more productive. Although Green and Stingley Jr were the headliners and haven't played up to the hype, the others are carrying the load. Jalen Pitre and Dameon PIerce alone make that draft class dope. This past draft was seen as the one to save the franchise so to speak. Getting C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr got the team a franchise quarterback and edge rusher with picks two and three overall. The price paid to move back up to three was hefty and puts more scrutiny on Anderson Jr. They appear, so far, to have also found a couple other nice players. Tank Dell being the hidden gem of this class.

While people can't, and shouldn't, base Caserio's performance strictly off of the guys he's drafted, one must call it into question. The '21 draft was a wash. The '22 draft looks suspect, but has some redeeming qualities. The '23 draft will most likely be his saving grace. But should it? Former Texans GM Rick Smith nailed almost every first rounder he drafted. Even he was almost run out of town because folks didn't like what he did. Why should Caserio be any different? So what if he cleaned up the mess by the previous regime! That's what he was hired to do!

“Keep that same energy!” That phrase is used when people try to hold others to different standards. Where's that energy everyone had for Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Rick Smith, Gary Kubiak, David Culley, and Lovie Smith? When others weren't performing well, their heads were called for. I see some people holding Caserio accountable. For the most part, it appears as if he's getting a bit of a pass. I'll be interested to see if this continues should the team has another subpar season. If that pick they traded to the Cardinals is another top 10 pick and the Browns pick the Texans own isn't...if Green can't come back and/or Stingley Jr doesn't show any signs of being a lockdown corner...then what? Let's hope none of this comes to fruition. If it does, we'll have to revisit this conversation.

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