Dekker Is Back To His Normal Self On Court

LAS VEGAS — Can anyone blame Sam Dekker for wanting to put his NBA rookie season in the rear view mirror?

Dekker played in a meager three games for the Houston Rockets last season, thwarted by a back injury that necessitated surgery.

But the former University of Wisconsin star, whom the Rockets made the 18th overall selection in the 2015 draft, appears ready to make up for lost time.

The 6-foot-9 Dekker has played terrifically in the NBA Summer League, exhibiting his exquisite all-around game.

Dekker has averaged 16 points through three games and has shot a smokin’ 56 from the field. He is also averaging 4.6 rebounds, and in Monday’s game against the D-League Select, Dekker had six assists.

Suffice to say, Dekker’s showing hasn’t gone unnoticed by Rockets officials. Head coach Mike D’Antoni and John Lucas, the team’s director of player development, have been highly encouraged by Dekker’s impressive play.

“I really like Sam and what he’s doing,’’ Lucas said. “I had him at the Nike Skilled Academy when he was in college and I liked his game

“He’s really come along nicely after the surgery. I’m glad to see him healthy again. I love his energy. If he can stay healthy, he can help us.

“I’m expecting him to have a good year, I do. I expect him to be a contributor for us.’’

D’Antoni, whom the Rockets hired in late May, prefers to play a free-flowing, fast-paced game, a style that should suit Dekker’s game perfectly.

Dekker runs the floor well for a big man and has the capabilities of either igniting the break or finishing it.

“He fits into our system,’’ D’Antoni said of Dekker, whom he regards as a small forward but is capable of being a stretch four as well. “I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far from him. He’s playing well; he’s having a good summer.

“Obviously, he is still digging out of the hole from his back injury and he has to continue to improve and improve his shot.

“But he’s smart, strong and big. If he can improve his shooting, I don’t see why he wouldn’t help us.’’

Some quick hits from the LV Summer League:

* Thon Maker has made a favorable impression on many NBA officials with three straight solid outings. The Bucks’ 7-foot-1 rookie not only is averaging 14 points but 12 boards as well.

But Maker has been foul prone and, in Monday’s game against Memphis, he committed 10 fouls in 31 minutes.

* Have you noticed in recent days, how several former Bucks are reportedly hoping to resume their careers with the Golden State Warriors?

Stephen Jackson, Ray Allen and even Larry Sanders have been linked to the Warriors. While all of those individuals may want to join the Warriors, I’ve been told none of them should be waiting by their phones for a call.

* How ‘bout those New York Knicks?

Less than a month ago, the Vegas odds on the Knicks winning the NBA title were 125/1. Now after a series of interesting moves, the Knicks’ odds are 60/1.

Only seven teams – Golden State (-150), Cleveland (5/2), San Antonio (13/2), Boston (20/1), L.A. Clippers (25/1), Oklahoma City and Toronto (30/1) – have better odds than the Knicks.

The Bucks are 125/1 shots to win the NBA title. Brooklyn has the worst odds of winning the championship at 500/1.

* In Erik Spoelstra’s own words, it was a “tough week’’ for him. Spoelstra was referring to star guard Dwyane Wade leaving the Heat and signing with the Chicago Bulls. Spoelstra not only lost his best player but someone with whom he had a great rapport.

Things should be looking up for Spoelstra later this month, though. That’s when he’ll be getting married to Nikki Sapp, a former Heat dancer.

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