Despite being one of the top prospects in this past summer's NBA rookie draft, Royce White's stock dipped due to concern over his existing anxiety disorder. Would the talented forward be able to cope with the travel requirements and everyday grind of The Association?
With many teams unsure, the Rockets swooped in to snatch White up with the sixteenth overall selection in the draft. But although he has all the potential in the world, the forward has yet to hit the hardwood this season.
He and the Rockets have reportedly been at odds over the last couple of months with regard to dealing with his disorder. It's taken a while for the two sides to agree upon what the best plan of action will be to ensure a seamless transition into the NBA.
After working out at the team's training facility on his own over the last week or so, White finally appears ready to the hardwood, albeit it won't be an NBA one just yet. The forward is set to begin his journey in the D-League, and is scheduled to be in uniform for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers' contest later Sunday.
Such a step is a huge one in the right direction for White. After originally being assigned to the D-League last month (though he never went on to appear in a game), it's likely that his NBA journey would have begun in the minors either way.
In the early goings of the season, the Rockets have been among the most efficient and frequent utilizers of its NBADL affiliate. The likes of Scott Machado, Donatas Montiejunas, and Terrence Jones have all donned D-League uniforms thus far. All three have played well, and have subsequently been sent up and down between Houston and Rio Grande Valley, depending on the Rockets' game/practice schedule and such.
But their respective assignments have been anything but demotions. Earlier this month, Rockets' Vice President Gersson Rosas told RidiculousUpside.com in an exclusive interview that not only had the team already seen progress from the young guns, but that they also felt as though spending time in the minors was simply an essential and routine part of each rookie's development. Citing Houston's deep roster, the executive said because of their existing talent, that the Rockets have the flexibility to send each prospect down in order to give them closer attention (and more playing time, of course) in the D-League.
And now it's White's turn to put his immense amount of promise on display a bit. A self-proclaimed point-forward, the 6'8" rookie likes to get his teammates involved. There's no doubt he can score, but White's key contributions come when he isn't putting the ball in the basket. In addition to being a big man with steady court vision, the forward can also rebound the ball well and has sound fundamentals on the defensive end.
With the D-League dedicated to developing the ultimate complementary player(s) for NBA squads, White's skill set will be put to use on the perfect stage. After watching his fellow rookies previously thrive while donning Viper uniforms, he should look forward to the chance to finally strut his stuff.
The rookie's recent NBADL assignment is reportedly the first step in what will be a multi-week process in integrating him back as a regular member of the Houston Rockets. Whereas Machado is using his time in the minors to better understand how to run an offense, and both Montiejunas and Jones continue to adjust to the big league game from college/international ball, respectively, White may be closer than most think.
If he's able to find a rhythm and get his footing right, White's versatile talents may make it easier for him to fit right into Coach Kevin Mchale's system. The rookie just needs to begin his journey by simply showing the team his potential is not only still existent, but is also able to be translated to the NBA game.