Thanks to Damian Lillard, the Houston Rockets will retreat home for the offseason having not made it past the first round of the NBA playoffs. For team led by the likes of James Harden and Dwight Howard, not advancing is a complete and utter let down. The Rockets were highly touted by many to emerge as (at the very least) Western Conference Champions this season.
That, of course, will not happen.
Having said that, there's no doubt Rockets' guard Troy Daniels can go home feeling like a winner on top, nonetheless. The sharpshooter was a mainstay in Rio Grande Valley while leading the D-League affiliated Vipers towards an impressive regular season finish when Houston signed him to a multi-year deal on February 21st. And though he continued the season splitting time with both teams while on assignment with RGV anyway, there's no doubt the Rockets reaped the benefits of such an acquisition when it mattered most.
Daniels hadn't gotten much NBA action until early April, with the Rockets willing to give him an extra look as the season wound down. He didn't disappoint, averaging 12.3 points on 48% from downtown in the month.
It's safe to say, that at this point, Houston was more than well aware of what the 22 year old could do. As such, the team continued to count on him and give him important minutes through the postseason.
In addition to standing tall and emerging as a postseason hero for his clutch play in game three of the first round against the Blazers (he hit the game-winner), Daniels owned averages of 7.8 points (on 53% shooting both overall and from deep) and 2.3 rebounds in 16.8 minutes per contest. Undoubtedly, he had gained the team's trust, and his shooting prowess warranted him valuable minutes on the court. What's more, Daniels even got into an altercation with instigating Blazers' guard Mo Williams following game four.
Welcome to the NBA, rook.
Daniels' ability to spread the floor and subsequent confidence when hoisting up the long ball are two traits that stand to make him vital to any number of NBA teams' potential success, let alone that of the Rockets. He's a keeper who continues to prove himself when given the opportunity.
Despite being a team led by two of the game's biggest superstars, the Rockets' roster is sprinkled with a handful of diamonds in the rough. Daniels is one of nine NBADL alumni in Houston, and that's just including the players.
Thus, though his team will head home after a disappointing postseason finish, Daniels can go home a winner. There's nothing else he possibly could have done better, having given Houston a more than ample taste of what's to come if they continue to give him a shot.