Good news, Rockets fans — Sergio Llull is looking sharp.
The Rockets hold the 6-foot-3 point guard’s draft rights after trading for him on draft night in 2009. The Denver Nuggets took Llull with the 34th pick, then sent him to Houston for $2.25 million, a record price for a second round pick. It’s looking like that investment could pay off.
The 24-year old Llull led Real Madrid to a victory in the Copa del Rey final on Sunday, putting up 23 points (5-7 on threes) to go with 5 assists, a performance that earned him MVP honors of the tournament. I was able to watch the championship game tape and compile the Llull highlights below:
From this game, you can see Llull is very much the point guard and leader of this team. I was under the impression that he was more of a shooting guard than a point, but that’s not the case. I’m told the Rockets see him as very similar to both Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic — a point guard that can slide over to the two without issues. He’s quick, a very good defender and, as you can see, has good range on his shot. The team loves his fire and energy on both sides of the floor. For more background on what Rockets brass saw in him, there is a great article and video by Rockets.com’s Jason Friedman from when he sat down with VP Sam Hinkie to discuss Llull two years ago.
So when does he come over? Good question.
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress recently tweeted that he was hearing that Llull “doesn’t have any interest whatsoever in playing in the NBA.” That’s not the case. I’m told Llull is “very motivated” to play in the NBA and seeing Ricky Rubio’s success has even enhanced that. There is a problem of playing time, however. Llull doesn’t want to come over if he’s blocked by established players at his position, and right now the Rockets are a bit jammed at the point.
A lot will probably change however before he comes to Houston, but Llull definitely wants to play here. I’m told the Rockets believe Llull will finish his contract overseas and come to the NBA for the 2013-14 season. That doesn’t help right now, but with all the talk of picks and prospects that haven’t panned out in Clutch City, Llull is one Rocket pick that’s on the rise.