The Rockets acquired the draft rights to forward Lior Eliyahu from the Orlando Magic, who selected him with the 44th pick on Wednesday.
I think the Rockets did well with this pick because it's a low risk at 44 and Eliyahu has a lot of potential. I know the Rockets have been following him for 2 years, and had an extensive interview with him at the camp in Italy two weeks ago.
First of all, he's a good kid. He measures at 6' 9", has long and very good hands, is quick, loves to penetrate and dunk, knows his way around the basket and can pass and steal. But he's not good on the defensive end and is not mean and aggressive to play the power forward spot. I think the reason he wasn't picked higher is that he's a tweener for the NBA: doesn't shoot well enough to be a small forward and definitely can't guard the smaller, quicker guys that play the 3, but is not strong enough to play the 4 at the NBA.
When you think of Lior Eliyahu, think of Andrei Kirilenko on offense. His shot doesn't look good but he has very good FG% and like AK47, he's always close to the ball. The problem is that he's not Kirilenko on defense, probably the main reason the Russian is a max player for the Jazz.
Eliyahu was the best player on a mediocre team in Israel and played his best basketball against the European competition, against bigger and heavier guys under the basket. But now he has to decide whether to move to a big time club like Maccabi Tel Aviv, one of the top 4 clubs in Europe, but risk sitting a whole lot on the bench.
I'm not sure what the Rockets will want him to do. With Vassilis Spanoulis, they got what they wanted since he moved to the big club, Panathenaikos, and is getting major minutes there. When he'll come to Houston, he'll be ready. Eliyahu needs to improve his aggressivness and outside shot and defense to be able to come, but if he does improve, we're talking a great rotation player that will do special things.
Will he improve enough? I'm not so sure.
Yaron Talpaz has been an NBA reporter and broadcaster in Israel for the past 10 years. He has been a Houston Rockets fan since 1981.