2014-15 season outlook: Tarik Black
Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.
Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is at hand.
The first handful of games tip off October 28, marking the start of the 82-game grind.
Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the 2014-15 campaign, we’ll be rolling out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.
Tarik Black — Houston Rockets
6-foot-11 forward | First season
When no NBA team used a draft pick this summer on Tarik Black, it seemed his road to the league could end up being a circuitous one, perhaps beginning in a D-League city or overseas.
However, the robust post player who spent just one season at KU after transferring from Memphis earned himself an NBA contract with Houston by doing Tarik Black things in summer league games — see: rebounding, defending, having a 6-foot-11, 250-pound frame and knowing how to use it to his advantage.
The Rockets have so much money tied up in the contracts of Dwight Howard and James Harden, they had to fill their roster with inexpensive options who they thought could also make an impact on the team.
They appear to have done just that with Black. He isn’t going to be a go-to big off Houston’s bench, but he could work his way to consistent meaningful minutes and has proven himself to some extent in the preseason. The people running the organization know they can trust Black to practice hard and not mess anything up when they need to use him in a game.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale recently told the Houston Chronicle what he likes about Black:
“He is a guy who has rebounded well, spaces well,” McHale said. “Sets good screens, been active. I have been impressed. If you play hard all the time, you have a leg up on a lot of guys.”
In Houston’s six preseason games, Black has played between 10 and 26 minutes. When the Rockets kept him on the floor 26 minutes (with the big men ahead of him resting) against Memphis, he put up 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Once considered a long shot to make the roster after signing for the league minimum, he has played enough in the preseason to indicate he could stick around and become a backup big — even if it’s at the end of the bench.
If Houston decides it likes Black as part of its plans going forward, the organization could still opt to send him to play with its D-League affiliate, Rio Grande Valley, in order to further his development.
With the Rockets’ personnel they are likely to play four-out/one-in, with just one true post player, meaning minutes behind Howard — and backups Joey Dorsey and Donatas Motiejunas — could be hard to come by.
Still, you can tell by listening to Black’s comments (in the above YouTube clip) that he is learning every minute that he is involved in this process, while playing his part on one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
And he has found some time to enjoy himself, too, by doing things such as out-dunking Howard:
Well, maybe not.
So what do we expect out of Black for the 2014-15 season?
Whether he is in Houston or the D-League, he’ll be competing like a maniac and soaking up all the knowledge he can to turn himself into a trusted NBA player.
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