Brooks, Landry looking forward to playing in Houston
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Rockets.com Staff Writer
HOUSTON -- Nearly 24 hours after finishing the 2007 NBA Draft, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey found himself skimming through several accounts on how his team fared with its first round selection.
He couldn't help noticing a trend when it came to describing his top pick -- former Oregon star Aaron Brooks.
"It seems like Aaron shrinks every time I read about him," Morey joked, referring to the 6-foot, 160-pound point guard.
The Rockets, however, aren't worried about how he's going to measure up on the court.
The franchise welcomed Brooks and Purdue power forward Carl Landry, its second round pick, to Houston on Friday afternoon. The team's other selection, Australia's Brad Newley, could wind up joining the Rockets' Class of 2007 at the NBA's summer league in Las Vegas.
Seeking more speed heading into the NBA Draft, the Rockets selected Brooks with the No. 26 overall selection to help the team pick up the pace on the offensive end. Brooks was widely considered one of the quickest players in the 2007 NBA Draft.
He was also one of the smallest. However, Brooks doesn't expect his size to be a problem in the NBA.
"There are a lot of 6-4 guys that play like they're 5-7," Brooks said. "I'm definitely going to need some help in the post against some of these guys, but I have my own advantages by being small. That's what I've been capitalizing on."
Brooks was a surprising pick to some NBA pundits and fans because the Rockets already had four point guards on the roster. Houston, in fact, was projected by many to take a player with more size since the team entered the NBA Draft with one power forward on the roster.
Instead, the Rockets chose the smallest player taken in the 2007 NBA Draft with their first round pick. Morey said the team was simply sticking to its plan of taking the best player available when they were on the clock.
That was Brooks. The Rockets expect the point guard to be an ideal fit into a roster that needed more speed heading into the Draft.
"Aaron has great speed and an ability to get to the basket. In today's NBA, that is fairly unguardable," Morey said.
That was certainly the case for Brooks at Oregon.
The 6-foot, 160-pound guard led the Pac-10 in scoring with a 17.7 scoring average during his senior season and was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press. During his career with the Ducks, the guard developed his perimeter shooting and showed an ability to guard bigger players. He also helped guide the Ducks reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
"I was very surprised when (the Rockets) picked me because I hadn't heard from them in a long time," Brooks said. "I was getting a lot of feedback from other teams. But Houston is a great fit. They're on the right path and you can't find a better situation than playing with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady."
Rockets coach Rick Adelman didn't have any trouble recognizing how he could use those advantages. During his season away from coaching in the NBA, Adelman said he had multiple opportunities to watch Brooks since he was residing in Portland, Ore.
"He can attack the basket and I think that's one area where we really needed help," Adelman said. "We need more people that can attack the basket and create situations where we can open up the offense. I spoke before about making things easier for Yao and Tracy. If you have more people that can attack, it opens the game up for them too."
The Rockets did add some size in the draft.
After making a trade to acquire Seattle's second round pick, Houston chose Landry. Despite his 6-foot-7, 245-pound frame, the Rockets fully expect Landry to play bigger than his measurements.
"When Carl stands up, you can see that he's not small," Morey said. "He was the best big on the board when we picked him. When you see Carl on the floor in the summer league and in the season, I think fans will really like him."
Landry proved to be a brusier in the Big Ten, where he led the Boilermakers with 18.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
"I'm going to bring a lot to the table," Landry said. "I might not be asked to do a lot of scoring, but I'm going to do a lot of little things to help. I'll dive on the floor and fight for loose balls."
Morey said that he expects the Rockets to spend the next three to four years developing the two rookies, but added he wouldn't mind seeing either player earn significant minutes in the upcoming season.
That is certainly Brooks' plan. He might have been the smallest player selected in Thursday's Draft. But he believes he plays bigger than his size.
"They have a plan for me to play in three to four years," Brooks said. "My plan is to speed that process up by working hard."