• Print
Monday June 30, 2008 3:36 PM

Welcome to Houston


Rockets select Donte Greene, Joey Dorsey, and Maarty Leunen in NBA Draft

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com Staff Writer
HOUSTON -In the end, the wait was worth it.

After a flurry of wheeling and dealing—and a lengthy wait that extended well past the end of the NBA draft—Rockets fans are waking up to a team that now boasts a trio of talented young players. Houston, say hello to your newest Rockets: Donte Greene, Joey Dorsey and Maarty Leunen.

It certainly took some extra work to bring them here.

The evening began predictably enough when the Chicago Bulls selected Memphis point guard Derrick Rose No. 1 overall. But by the time it was announced that the Rockets had taken Nicolas Batum with the 25th pick, a plethora of trade talk threatened to throw the entire draft into chaos–only we didn’t know it at the time. In fact, it wasn’t until Rockets GM Daryl Morey stepped to the podium at 11:30 PM (nearly half an hour after the draft had come to a close) that the full extent of the Toyota Center war room’s work was known.

Here’s a quick breakdown for those scoring at home: Houston began by trading the draft rights to Batum to the Portland Trail Blazers for the rights to Darrell Arthur (27th overall pick) and Dorsey (33rd overall pick). The Rockets then sent the draft rights for Arthur to the Memphis Grizzlies for the rights to Greene (28th overall pick) and Memphis’ 2009 second-round pick. To cap things off, Houston then took Leunen (54th overall pick) with its own selection in the second round.

Got all that? Good. Now let’s get to know a little bit more about the newest members of the team. We’ll let the GM handle that part.

Donte Greene (6-11, 226, Syracuse)

“At the wing spot we need size, athleticism and shooting,” says Morey. “He has all those things. He’s got a good chance to really contribute over time. I do think he’ll potentially have a tough time getting on the floor early with the veteran group we have, but he’s at a spot where if he works and commits himself on both ends of the floor, he’s got a real chance to be a pretty special player.”

Joey Dorsey (6-7, 265, Memphis)

Says Morey: “He’s, in our opinion, the best defensive big in the country. He anchored the best defense in the country in Memphis, and he was the player on that team who made the largest impact; through steals, through shot blocking, through his ability to guard nearly every position on the floor with his speed and athleticism.

“He’s someone who can make an impact right away. He’s ready to play right now. He can run the floor. He can anchor a transition line-up. We feel like he’s a top-five rebounder in the country on both ends. So he’s creating extra possessions on the offensive end, and he’s getting steals.

“He is 6’ 7’’ but he’s long. He makes up for any sort of size limitation with his wide body, and athleticism and speed.”

Maarty Leunen (6-9. 220, Oregon)

“Maarty will play overseas,” says Morey. “He’s someone we’ll keep the rights to. He’s a shooting, spacing four who we think has a chance down the road. We believe in spacing fours as an important asset. We have Steve Novak and he’ll be on the team at least the next year, but we feel like Maarty is someone who could potentially be a future bet at that spot as well.”

So after countless hours of prep work and scouting, another draft is in the books. The exhaustion inherent in this event is evident everywhere—weary smiles and baggy eyes are the order of the day—but so too is the enthusiasm. It would seem sleepless nights are far more tolerable when everything falls into place.

“One of the players we were trying to move up for was Donte, and we weren’t able to move up,” says Morey. “But then he fell to us. And then our staff did some incredible research in terms of knowing where the players were going and that gave us confidence to swap back twice, pick up that extra pick, pick up that future second in ’09, and still get Donte Greene and Joey Dorsey.”

In other words, it was all well worth the wait.