Remember R.J. Hunter? You might not, but if you followed any level of basketball in 2015, chances are you did. Here's the one play you need to watch to know who I'm talking about.
It makes sense why that play was so big. Everything about it was classic Cinderella moment. A 14-seed (Georgia State) knocking out a 3-seed (Baylor). The team's best player happened to be the coach's son. Said coach was injured, so he was sitting on a chair during the game, which he proceeded to fall off of while celebrating his son's game winner. Sadly, such a perfect play meant that Hunter's career was defined by it, even though he had a prolific college career.
Since being drafted 28th in 2015 by the Boston Celtics, Hunter hasn't done much. He has bounced between the NBA and the G-League, playing for the Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, and the Houston Rockets in the former league while he was on the Maine Red Claws, Windy City Bulls, Long Island Nets, and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Things started looking promising when the Rockets signed him to a two-way contract in January.
If you're unfamiliar with two-way contracts, they are deals that allow a player to spend a maximum of 45 days in the NBA, spending the rest of the season in the G-League. This means that, at some point, the Rockets thought that Hunter had the potential to be good enough to make the NBA team. Their opinion must have changed since then.
His averages in the G-League last year were pretty solid: 20.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. His numbers weren't as high in the Summer League, averaging 11.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 40.4% from the field and 33.3% from deep. This poor showing may be the reason why the team chose to waive him. The below video highlights his best game in the Summer League but also demonstrates less than ideal shot selection. If he wasn't able to make these shots consistently, something that his low field goal efficiency showcases, then it'd be hard for him to stick o na team.
Now to look into the new Rocket, Bruno Caboclo. The Brazilian was the 20th pick of the 2014 draft, going to the Toronto Raptors, where he stayed four seasons. In that timespan, he spent most of his time in the team's G-League affiliate, the Raptors 905. There, he averaged 14.4 points, 6.5 boards, 1.3 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. His most noteworthy achievement there was scoring 31 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the deciding Game 3 of the 2017 G-League finals against the Valley Vipers (what a coincidence).
Afterwards, he was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Malachi Richardson. He played a total of 10 games there, averaging 2.6 points 2.1 rebounds, and 10 minutes per game. Now, the player once deemed the Brazilian KD by ESPN's Fran Fraschilla signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Rockets. This is a 1-year contract at the minimum that can be converted to a two-way deal if the team so chooses.
The flexibility of the contract means that the Rockets see potential in the 22-year old, but don't want to use up one of their two valuable two-way contracts on him. These deals are very important for Houston in their quest to dethrone the villains of the league, aka the Warriors. It's almost impossible for the Rockets to compete with Golden State's future starting five of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins. However, with a great bench and depth, they have a much better chance.