After three uneven years with the Wisconsin Badgers, Sam Dekker is heading to the Houston Rockets, who selected him with the 18th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Dekker is the second member of the Badgers to be drafted Thursday night after teammate Frank Kaminsky.
Dekker arrived in Madison as one of the best recruits ever landed by coach Bo Ryan, and while he never experienced a breakout year, he still helped the Badgers to some of their best seasons in school history. With Dekker and Kaminsky providing the one-two punch, Wisconsin reached back-to-back Final Fours, and this year, the team made its first-ever national championship game.
The Badgers couldn't top Duke for the title, but Dekker starred throughout the NCAA Tournament run. In the Sweet 16 against UNC, he scored a career-high 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Days later in the Elite Eight, he broke that mark by scoring 27 points on 8-of-11 shooting in a win over Arizona. He was also great in the team's Final Four upset of Kentucky, scoring 16 points.
Ethan Rothstein of The Dream Shake, SB Nation's Rockets blog, doesn't mind that the team passed on a point guard -- its biggest need -- in favor of a talented scorer like Dekker.
Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I like this pick. The Rockets sorely lacked an offensive player off the bench in the playoffs, and Dekker has game. The idea that a point guard chosen at 18 could reasonably start on a championship team was always a pipedream. Tyus Jones may yet fall to the Rockets at 32, which would be fantastic, but I'd much rather chase a George Hill or Ty Lawson in the trade market than bank on a rookie next year.
In Dekker, the Rockets get yet another forward who can shoot the ball. He'll have to work on his defense, but Houston wants guys who can fit around James Harden and knock down open three-pointers. Dekker should be able to evolve into a player who can play that role.