Rockets Draft Grades

The Rockets drew plenty of national praise with their selections of Yao Ming, Bostjan Nachbar and Tito Maddox in the 2002 NBA Draft. took a peek at what a few of the experts had to say following the draft.

Yao Ming reacts to being selected by the Rockets with the No. 1 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft.
NBAE Photos/Getty Images

NBA.COM - Marty Blake

"Houston has Maurice Taylor, they have Moochie Norris, they have some very
good guards in Cuttino Mobley and Steve Francis -- now they get the one
piece of the puzzle, a center. You get a great center maybe once in your
lifetime and a regular center every two and a half years. They got Yao.
They're the one team in this draft that can maybe go from 21 wins to 51.
They really helped themselves, I thought. They got Yao Ming and Bostjan
. Nachbar can play a couple of positions. Tito Maddox will be fine if
they can keep him straight."

ESPN - Chad Ford

They went international and it will pay off huge. Yao is a great fit for
Houston and Houston is a great fit for Yao. The Rockets will challenge for a
playoff spot with Yao, a healthy Steve Francis, Glen Rice, Bostjan Nachbar
and Mo Taylor. Nachbar, who is 22, will step in immediately and provide
sharp shooting. Tito Maddox, at No. 39, was also a steal. He was the best
pure point guard in Chicago.
Grade: A


the first pick overall and No. 15, the Rockets went international with 7-5
Yao Ming and 6-9 Bostjan Nachbar, filling in the needs for dynamic players
at positions of weakness. Yao's size and skills are bound to pay dividends,
and Nachbar is expected to make just as big an impact. And even in the
second round, they got point guard Tito Maddox, who will provide quality
Grade: A

“(Houston is) one team in this draft that can maybe go from 21 wins to 51. They really helped themselves, I thought.”


The team went with a huge project with Yao Ming but his talent level
is so high, and the economic value that he brings to a team so great, that
he was a done deal for the Rockets as soon as they won the lottery. The
Chinese Government was the only snag and when they cooperated it solidified
the selection. The team landed a gem with their second pick Bostjan Nachbar.
This kid is much better than Seattle's Radmonovic. In a few years he will be
closer to a Peja type player. Not the shooter, but a better team player with
defense and more athleticism. Watch out for this team! Tito Maddox, ho
Grade: A

CNN/SI - Marty Burns

Filled their biggest needs at center and small forward with two
outstanding prospects. Yao Ming is a potential franchise player, while 6'9"
Bostjan Nachbar is a versatile scorer who could blossom into a star.
Grade: A

SPORTING NEWS - Michael Murphy

The team had two objectives on draft day, one of which was extremely obvious
-- take Yao Ming with the No. 1 pick. Once the political hurdles were cleared -- and there were many -- the team
was happy to select the 7-6 1/4 Chinese center.

Yao is an unbelievably skilled player, able to hit jumpers at the 3-point
arc, dribble, pass and rebound. Oh, yeah, the guy can block a few shots,
too. Yao's impact on the team should be tremendous. Bill Walton says Yao has one of the best outlet passes he has seen in the
past few years -- not too hard to believe because very few players these
days even know what an outlet pass looks like.

Bostjan Nachbar poses with his new Rockets jersey.
Andrew Ware/Rockets photo

Rebounding and outlet passing should be enough to fuel the Rockets' fast
break. That break should be even more effective because the Rockets were
able to address their other draft-day need -- at small forward.

Nobody was happier than the Rockets when David Stern announced the Pacers
had taken Freddie Jones with the 14th pick, a move that allowed the Rockets
to take Bostjan Nachbar at No. 15. Think of him as the Slovenian Kiki

In the second round, the Rockets took Tito Maddox, a 6-4 guard out of Fresno
State. Can't see him sticking among the team's deep guard corps.

Nachbar, a 6-8 forward with deep range, can run the floor and finish the
break with a dunk. He put on a show during his workout with the Rockets,
drilling 3-pointer after 3-pointer and finishing his stint with a slam over
the defender. Nachbar isn't exactly Clyde Frazier on defense, but with Yao and 6-10 leaper
Eddie Griffin up front, Nachbar won't have to be.

The question now is this: Do the Rockets try to fit Yao into what they've
been doing, or do they scrap what they've been doing (the isolation offense)
and alter the offense to take advantage of Yao (and to a lesser extent,
Nachbar)? The answer to that will be huge. And it will have much to do with how well
Yao and Nachbar fare this year.

FOX SPORTS - Mike Monroe

Yao Ming. After all the
anxiety about Yao's availability, the Rockets got their man. Now all they
have to do is worry about how he's going to hold up over the grind of an
82-game NBA season. First order of business: Showing him the weight room,
then the cafeteria. Don't forget: Last time the Rockets used the very first
pick of the draft on a foreign-born player, he led them to two NBA titles.
Yao's never going to be as good as
Hakeem Olajuwon, but when
you're 7-foot-5, with skills like Yao has, you've got a chance to dominate.

Bostjan Nachbar. Perhaps Benetton Treviso ought to get an expansion franchise next
season. Nachbar was the second Treviso player taken in the first 15 of this
draft. Ironically, he played a lot more than his Treviso teammate, Nikoloz
Tskitishvili, who went fifth. Also of note: When Tskitishvili was asked to
name the best player he'd played with or against in Italy, he said
Tyus Edney was the best
payer he had played with and Emanuel Ginobili, a 1999 pick of the Spurs, was
the best he'd played against. Where does that leave Nachbar?

“Yao Ming is a potential franchise player, while 6-9 Bostjan Nachbar is a versatile scorer who could blossom into a star.”


Ming is athletic, has size and shooting touch, but is still a project. He
excelled in the Chinese League, but needs to show it on the NBA level of
competition. Nachbar - A combo forward who can play guard. He is a great marksman and has a
well-rounded game on offense. A hard worker, and team player.

USA TODAY - Roscoe Nance

Yao Ming. The Rockets finally got the I's dotted and T's crossed
in their long-running negotiations with the Chinese government, the Chinese
Basketball Association and the Shanghai Sharks and a cast of thousands as
they pursued Yao. Don't look for much out of him right away. Bostjan Nachbar. A face-the-basket scorer who rounds out their offense.


They have a new center in Yao Ming, a new small forward in Bostjan
Nachbar, and a new backup point guard in Tito Maddox (a second round steal).
Great night for the Rockets.


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