Daryl Morey calls Royce White arguably ‘the worst first-round pick ever’

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The Houston Rockets selected Royce White with the No. 16 pick in the 2012 draft.

He spent a year with the Rockets while anxiety issues kept him from being with the team and was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, who cut him before this season began. At this point, it appears to be a huge longshot White will ever play in the NBA.

Since 1972, just five other players have been drafted that high without playing in the NBA:

  • Nerlens Noel (No. 6 in 2013 by 76ers)
  • Lucas Nogueira (No. 16 in 2013 by Hawks)
  • Fran Vasquez (No. 11 in 2005 by Magic)
  • Frederic Weis (No. 15 in 1999 by Knicks)
  • Len Bias (No. 2 in 1986 by Celtics)

Noel will obviously get on the court, perhaps as early as this season. Nogueira has plenty of time to come stateside.

That leaves White in rare, though not quite unprecedented, company as Rockets general manager Daryl Morey suggests.

Morey, via Ben DuBose of ClutchFans (hat tip: Matt Moore of Eye on Basketball):

“I take some sort of pride that you could argue that Royce White is the worst first-round pick ever. He’s the only one that never played a minute in the NBA that wasn’t just a foreign guy staying in Europe. It just shows we swing for the fence,” Morey quipped.

    White isn’t the worst first-round pick ever, and Morey doesn’t believe that.

    Analytically inclined people like Morey are process-oriented, not result-oriented. Morey has sound reasons for drafting White, whose basketball talent dictated he should have gone much higher in the draft. Concerns about his anxiety issues rightly pushed him down draft boards, but the reward outweighed the risk where Morey selected him.

    That logic matters more to Morey than whether White actually panned out as an NBA player. Calculated risks aren’t bad moves if the calculations were correct, regardless of how the hand unfolds.

    If Morey just means based on results, Bias, who died from cocaine overdose days after the draft, was a worse pick by that standard. After all, he was drafted 14 spots higher than White.

    But it seems a little cold to debate whether a player who died or a player who couldn’t overcome his anxiety issues was the worst first-round pick of all time, which leads to my final and most-significant point.

    Isn’t it a little insensitive for Morey to publicly chastise a person whose mental state has caused himself great distress? White didn’t work out in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve compassion.

    It’s one thing to discuss how and why White didn’t make the NBA, but it’s another thing to single him out as “the worst first-round pick ever” when the standard used to select him doesn’t even put him at the bottom of the list. This just feels like unfairly piling on.

    Michael Carter-Williams and Tim Frazier ejected for altercation, leading to hilarious Dwight Howard free throws (video)

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    Jason Smith pushed down Michael Carter-Williams while going for a rebound. Carter-Williams pulled Smith to the floor. Tim Frazier flew in heated.

    It was more than a typical NBA altercation – Carter-Williams clenched his fist, though never swung – but it wasn’t quite a fight. It was just reserves getting feisty late in a blowout, the Hornets’ 133-109 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Carter-Williams and Frazier were given double technical fouls and ejected.

    One catch: Smith was called for personally fouling Carter-Williams, who was due free throws. With Carter-Williams unavailable, Washington could pick his replacement at the line.

    Wizards coach Scott Brooks chose Dwight Howard, a poor free-throw shooter who’d been resting the entire fourth quarter and surely figured his night was over. Maybe it was only about Howard’s team-worst 53% shooting from the line, but it’s also possible Brooks was trying to make an opponent uncomfortable.

    The Charlotte crowd went wild, and Howard only added to the fervor.

    He sunk both free throws – padding his stats (18 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and two steals) – and blew Brooks a kiss. Howard might appreciate the extra points Brooks afforded him, but they’ll likely come at a cost. Howard celebrated with the Sam Cassell/big-balls dance, which usually draws a fine from the NBA.

    Kent Bazemore hits game-winner to lift Hawks over Pelicans (video)

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    Just when it seemed as if the Pelicans were rolling… they lose to the lowly Hawks.

    This was the second game of a back-to-back after beating the Celtics in overtime, and New Orleans looked the part, blowing a 15-point lead in the final 19 minutes.

    Kent Bazemore‘s jumper with 2.1 seconds left stood as the game-winner when DeMarcus Cousins missed a rushed post-up on the other end.

    Jalen Rose calls Paul Pierce petty to his face (video)

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    Paul Pierce is being petty about Isaiah Thomas‘ tribute video.

    And that’s from someone who empathizes with Pierce’s point of view.

    When retiring a player’s number, teams tastefully use stoppages to show highlights and tributes to the player. The whole night, not just the moment of raising a number into the rafters, can be about celebrating the player. It’s reasonable for Pierce to want the entire package.

    But to go on television and advocate for not showing Thomas’ video? To continue the campaign after Thomas made clear how important his video was to him? To tell the Celtics not to show a short video for Thomas during introductions?

    It’s way too far.

    Too many people around Pierce enabled his flawed approach. Jalen Rose put that to a pointed stop.

    Rose on ESPN:

    I’ve got say a word for you, fam. I think it was petty.

    On Paul Pierce’s part.

    I love Paul. This is my brother. Because to me, there are going to be all type of announcements that happen in the 48 minutes during that game. All types. Including Isaiah Thomas could be one of them. It does not take away from your situation. Like Kobe’s, it happened during the game. Because they’re doing yours post-game.

    The look on Pierce’s face while Rose was talking!

    NBA: Referees missed multiple intentional-foul attempts by Mavericks in loss to Nuggets

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    The Mavericks trailed the Nuggets by 23 points in the second half and 16 points with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter last night. But Dallas rallied and cut its deficit to only one with 10.4 seconds left. Denver had the ball, so the Mavericks had to foul.

    They tried… and tried… and tried before finally succeeding.

    Per the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report, Dennis Smith Jr. should have been called for intentionally fouling Will Barton with 8.2 seconds left. Failing that, Wesley Matthews should have been called for intentionally fouling Barton with 6.7 seconds left. Mercifully, officials (correctly) whistled Matthews for fouling Gary Harris with 1.7 seconds left.

    Harris made both free throws, and the Nuggets escaped with a 105-102 win once Dallas couldn’t get off a shot with so little time left.

    The Mavericks probably would have lost even with a correct call on this sequence. They were trailing in the final 10 seconds and without the ball.

    But allowing Denver to run off an extra 6.5 seconds and get the ball to a better free-throw shooter certainly hurt Dallas’ odds.

    I’m not so concerned with the result of this game, though. The Mavericks are better off improving their lottery position by losing. It is a bad break for the teams jockeying with the Nuggets for playoff position, but, again, Denver probably would have won anyway.

    The bigger takeaway: Even if players are more concerned about communication than calls, if referees can’t even get consecutive intentional fouls right, that doesn’t instill much confidence in the officials.