Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey attended a Rio Grande Vipers game this week to scout the talent on his team's D-League squad, and talked to Yannis Kotroupis of HoopsWorld.com. Among the topics he discussed was the importance of the D-League to the Rockets' player-development system:
“We consider it one of our key assets,” Morey said to HOOPSWORLD. “We have a great partnership. I think overtime people are going to see minor league basketball like Triple A baseball. It’s not much different than Major League Baseball where most players are one step away from the pros. The first three or four guys on every D-League bench are really not different from guys 11-15 on NBA benches. The quality of basketball is super high, way higher than college basketball. Pretty much every D-League team would have a chance to challenge for a NCAA title. These are really great teams playing every night and I think over time people are going to see how high the quality is.”
Among the players on the Vipers who impressed Morey the most was Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas:
“[Motiejuans] a very skilled offensive player so we’re hoping shows that and I think he really did show that in the first half here,” Morey said. “We’re focused on him a getting a lot of minutes so he can get his game shape up cause we want to see him impact in transition at our level and this level. We want to see him as he gets tired continue to impact the game defensively, rebounding wise and be solid on defense without fouling. And, it’s overtime. It’s not overnight. We want him to get stronger, deal with stronger guys in the NBA. There’s quite a few bigs down here like a Jeff Adrien on his own team, but on other teams where he can get a real good sense going against these bigger, stronger guys than he’s faced in the past.”
Morey was also happy with what he saw from undrafted rookie point guard Scott Machado, and touched on the team's plans for him:
“Scott is a guy we really believe in,” Morey said. “The highest assist guy I think in 20 years in college basketball. Really skilled passer. Obviously he has has, we look for a guy with an elite skill in one area and then see if they can round it out in other areas. I think his time with the Vipers were really going to see can he take that passing an elite skill and add to it defense, rebounding and getting his own offense, things like that. Overtime we’ll see that but we really think he’s a great prospect for us going forward.”
Morey also denied reports that the team had intended to send embattled rookie forward Royce White to the D-League, saying he's optimistic the two parties can sort out their issues.