My hopes were high for Jordan Bell or Jonah Bolden, but both were off the board by the time the Rockets picked in the middle of the second round.
It didn’t matter. The Rockets had different plans.
In a somewhat predictable move with their second round picks, the Rockets made a draft-and-stash pick and then dumped off their second selection.
With the 43rd pick, the Rockets selected German center Isaiah Hartenstein, then dumped the 45th pick (Oregon forward Dillon Brooks) to Memphis for a future second round pick.
Hartenstein is a 19-year old seven footer who has very good upside. He’s a lefty who played with Zalgiris Kaunas of the Lithuanian Basketball League, averaging over 20 points a game. He also played in the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit, representing Germany in three FIBA events at the U16 and U18 levels, averaging 12.2 points and 9.1 boards.
“He’s a mobile seven-footer, really skilled (with) potential two-way ability,” said Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. “We really like his potential.”
Hartenstein said he considers himself to be a very mobile and versatile player with strong passing skills, comparing himself to the likes of Draymond Green and Kevin Love in the passing department.
Ironically, he draws comparisons to former Rocket Donatas Motiejunas, and in an interesting (and potentially confrontational) twist, Hartenstein is represented by B.J. Armstrong, the same agent who advised and steered Motiejunas wrong in last year’s negotiations.
“I love winning,” said Hartenstein. “I can do a lot of things on the court, whatever the team needs me to do. Me being very versatile helps a lot.”
The moves are a classic Rockets strategy — prepare for free agency and maximum cap room. They didn’t want to add anyone late in the draft to the current squad as they’re trying to make moves to clear space. They hope to land a star then fill out the roster with higher quality players that are looking to contend.
Hartenstein has had back issues, but he said in a conference call after the selection that his back is fine. But interestingly, like Clint Capela in 2014, Hartenstein says he hopes to play with the Rockets this season, which almost assuredly goes against the Rockets’ current plans. Morey said he won’t be on the 2017-18 roster.
“It looks like he’s going to play with us this summer and then develop overseas next year,” said Morey.
Rockets select Isaiah Hartenstein
Isaiah Hartenstein Highlights