Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker was selected 18th overall by the Houston Rockets. Dekker capped off his collegiate career by helping the Badgers reach the national championship, where they lost to Duke. Dekker played three years for Wisconsin and improved each year. His talent was obvious from his freshman year but he did not really excel until late in his junior season. He thrived in the NCAA tournament and was an integral part of how Wisconsin was able to make a run to the championship game, which included taking down the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. His NCAA tournament run helped catapult him up NBA boards and the Rockets selected him 18th as he was clearly the most talented player left on the board.
Dekker is a small forward who can attack the rim and also shoot from the outside. He is listed at 6’9” which gives him great size for his position. He has some muscle but could use a little more to play at the NBA level. He has a very good all-around game but his outside shot can be a little streaky. Frank Kaminsky was known as the best player at Wisconsin, but Dekker is probably a little more talented and may have deferred too much at times. He settled for a few too many jumpers at the collegiate level when he could have used his size to get to the rim more. When he did attack he was very effective. He upped his average every year in college but never scored more than 14 points per game, which a player of his caliber should have been able to do. Dekker did not participate in the summer league so the first NBA action we will see him in will most likely be in the preseason with the Houston Rockets.
He has the talent to be a contributor on the NBA but it may take some time. The Rockets are not an ideal fit for a young wing player looking to earn minutes right away. Houston figures to be a championship contender next season and most likely is looking to develop Dekker for the future. Trevor Ariza is slated as the starting small forward and Corey Brewer carved out a nice role for himself off the bench last season which leaves little minutes for another small forward. Dekker is too skinny to play power forward despite his height and will have to carve out a role as a small forward. The Rockets also have KJ McDaniels who will battle with Dekker for the third small forward spot.
Graphic via jsonline
One thing Dekker has going for him in that battle is that he is a much better offensive player and the Rockets are a high scoring team. He will need to work on developing a more consistent three point shot in order to earn rotation minutes for a coach who preaches lay-ups and threes.
Graphic via geeksandcleats