Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker was selected by the Houston Rockets with the No. 18 pick in Thursday night's NBA draft in Brooklyn.
Dekker, 21, entered the draft following his junior season, which saw Wisconsin come within minutes of the NCAA tournament championship before falling to Duke. Over this three seasons, Dekker averaged 12.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
Last season was Dekker's most productive, as he joined fellow first-round draft pick Frank Kaminsky in leading a Badgers team that managed to exceed perhaps the loftiest preseason expectations the program had ever faced. The Sheboygan, Wis., native's 13.9 points per game were second only to Kaminsky's, and he shot a career-high 52.5 percent from the floor while averaging nearly a shot attempt per game more than he did as a sophomore. More specifically, he sunk 63.9 percent of his two-pointers, way higher than any previous mark.
More on Dekker
More on Dekker
What Dekker brings to the Rockets is clear: athleticism that should allow him to be the same explosive, dynamic player he was with the Badgers. His greatest weakness was frequently discussed during the lead-up to the draft: his shooting, which was spotty in college and didn't necessarily make him a reliable outside shooter.
Otherwise, Dekker's penchant for playing well in big games -- see his NCAA tournament efforts against UNC (double-double), Arizona (career-high 27 points with five second-half three-pointers) and Kentucky (16 points) -- stand out as promising exhibitions for his new NBA team.
Interestingly, Dekker himself compared his game to that of current Rocket forward Trevor Ariza, a versatile 10-year veteran. Now Dekker will be battling with Ariza for playing time and possibly gaining a perfectly suited mentor. By sliding slightly to Houston at No. 18, Dekker faces much less pressure to perform as he joins the Southwest Division champs, who went 56-26 last season. He will have plenty of opportunities to do what he does best -- slip into space and improvise -- while all the defensive attention is on James Harden and Dwight Howard.