Top 5 Reasons Royce White Will Make Every NBA
Royce White was widely considered a top-10 prospect heading into the 2012 NBA draft, and rightfully so. He proved to be a stud during his one season at Iowa State, where he led the Cyclones in all five major statistical categories while carrying Fred Hoiberg’s team into the NCAA tournament.
That being said, few (if any) draftniks actually thought he’d go as early as his talents would suggest. A rap sheet from his short-lived days at Minnesota—stemming, at least in part, from his generalized anxiety disorder—rendered White a liability in the minds of most scouts and GMs, particularly those charged with picking wisely in the lottery.
As a result, White fell into the lap of the Houston Rockets at No. 16, though he might’ve fallen out of the first round entirely if not for head coach Kevin McHale lobbying on his behalf.
In total, 13 NBA teams (including the Rockets) passed on White before he finally came off the board in late June. That, in itself, should be motivation enough for the mighty Minneapolis native to shine during his rookie season and beyond in H-Town.
There’s no shortage of other reasons to believe that White will make those who passed on him pay for doing so, though these five should make for a solid start.
He’s a Load Down Low
It’s to be expected that a man of Royce White’s stature (6’8″, 261 pounds) would be able to hold his own in the post, at the very least.
As it happens, though, he’s superb at operating on the low block. He can face his man up and either drive to the basket or pop a quick jumper. He can also score with his back to the basket, be it by throwing around his weight until he gets to the rim or turning over his shoulder for an easy jump hook.
And when White feels it best to pass, he excels at hitting teammates on the way to the hoop as well as those with open shots on the perimeter.
All of which is to say: Royce White knows his way around the paint.
He Can Play the Point
What makes Royce White such a remarkable prospect, though, is his ability to run an offense from up top.
White might best be described as a point-forward rather than a point guard, out of respect for his aforementioned acuity in the post. He’s an excellent and willing passer (to which his 5.0 assists per game in college will attest) with uncanny court vision, particularly for a player his size.
Likewise, White can do more than just handle the ball. He sports an assortment of crossovers and spin moves in his extensive ball-handling arsenal and, somehow, manages to stay in control most of the time.
His proficiency in orchestrating a half-court attack is remarkable; though, he’s most impressive out in transition. White is fully capable of ripping down a rebound on the defensive end and running a fast break on his own.
And if White makes up his mind to take it himself, most players would be loath to stand in his way, lest they get run over by a human freight train.
He’s a Matchup Nightmare
White’s combination of size, skill and athleticism figure to make him nearly impossible to defend for most of his prospective NBA antagonists.
He’s too big and too strong for small forwards, whom he can take into the post and back down with relative ease. Should an opposing team stick him with a power forward, he has the requisite speed, quickness and craftiness with the ball to blow by his defender from the perimeter.
White may be a bit of a ‘tweener himself defensively, but he has the tools to be an exceedingly tough cover on the other end.
He Has Star Potential
All of these factors—his physical gifts, his versatility and his ability to combine those two into a devastating and dynamic package—make Royce White not only a potential steal from the 2012 NBA draft, but also a budding star who fits perfectly into a league whose landscape is quickly being taken over by hybrid players who defy positional definition.
Better yet, White will have a golden opportunity to showcase his skills (occasionally at the expense of those that passed him by on draft day) on a Rockets squad that’s been reshuffled over the course of a busy offseason.
Houston is currently carrying 19 players on its roster, including five at power forward, where White is likely to see most of his minutes.
That number will be pared down considerably by the start of the regular season, with at least one or two bodies likely to be trimmed from the 4. Even if deep competition remains, White has the talent (and the support of Kevin McHale) to ensure that he sees the floor plenty for the Rockets, who will look much more like a lab experiment than a winning basketball team this season.
And if White proves his worth along the way, he may well find himself staked into a more prominent role going forward, after the tunes cut out on Houston’s high-stakes game of musical chairs.
He’s an Inspiration
To some, Royce White’s battle with generalized anxiety disorder is a red flag, a reason to steer clear of a kid whose own mind and body tend to betray him.
To others (perhaps even millions more), White’s struggle and his openness regarding said struggle go far beyond the game of basketball and make him an inspiration to those who suffer with similar afflictions in secret.
In that sense, those 12 teams (13, if you include the Rockets) that left White on the board also forfeited an opportunity to do some serious good in the world. Those organizations could’ve become shining beacons of hope for the mentally ill by promoting the story and elevating the profile of one man who’s not only learned how to handle his disease, but has managed to flourish in spite of it.
Instead, the Rockets will have dibs on the karmic rewards that come with employing a player who’s sure to become a role model for countless others across the country and, potentially, around the world.