The Houston Rockets are in full rebuild mode after their second straight season with 20 or fewer wins. The NBA recently adjusted the lottery odds, which gave the bottom three teams an equal chance of landing the top pick. The Rockets went to the lottery with a 52.1% chance of getting a top-4 pick. The remaining 47.9% were for the fifth choice.
Despite the poor record, the Rockets aren’t as far off the competition as most teams in their situation. Houston has done a great job adding young talent to build around going forward. Last season’s second pick, Jalen Green, has had a strong rookie season and is expected to become one of the faces of the franchise. With the lottery settled, the Rockets walked away with the third overall pick where they will be looking for his co-star.
3 best options for Rockets after getting 3rd pick in 2022 NBA draft
Chet Holmgren – C Gonzaga
The unique styling of the 7ft makes it such an interesting prospect. Many have considered Chet Holmgren to be the surefire number one choice, but it’s not as clear-cut a decision as it has been in most years. The Gonzaga product is extremely skilled on both sides of the ball and is able to handle the ball in a way a player of his size shouldn’t have to. Holmgren has a smooth jump shot and is comfortable shooting from three points (39% this season). This makes a potential pick-and-pop game incredibly dangerous. Even with his skinny frame, Holmgren is very hard-hitting defensively due to his 7’6″ wingspan and impressive instincts.
As polished as his game is, Chet Holmgren’s body is years away from being NBA-ready. He weighs only 195 pounds and it’s clear he’s struggling to gain weight. He plays a tough brand of basketball but lacks the body to make it effective. Rude annoyances were a constant problem throughout his college career. With the Rockets still in development mode, it would be too hard to miss Holmgren’s dizzying rise. However, there is a quirk in his game and concerns about his body that keep him from being the can’t-miss prospect he was once considered.
Jabari Smith Jr. – PF/C Auburn
The Rockets are largely at the mercy of what happens in the two picks before them. Jabari Smith Jr. is the cleanest alongside Jalen Green. The Auburn product is a sniper with a height of 6’10”. He is capable of scoring at all three levels and his height limits defensive impact. Smith averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks this season.The big man has attractive defensive potential and will be a complete two-way player once he fully develops.
There is some concern with his hilt and how much it limits his isolation scoring ability. He could also use to add strength, but he’s got the frame to do that. Perhaps the biggest concern was his poor performance in the NCAA Tournament.
Second-seeded Auburn was eliminated by Miami in the second round of the tournament. Smith had his worst performance of the season, finishing with 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting. Auburn were outscored 20 points while Smith was on the court and he failed to assert himself on either side of the ball . Opinions differ on how much weight to give to this, but it was certainly a disappointing end to his brief college career.
Paolo Banchero – Duke PF/C
If Paolo Banchero is the remaining player among the top three prospects, that’s a pretty good consolation prize. The Duke product has averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists this season. Although the 3.2 assists per game aren’t off the charts, he has exciting potential as a playmaker. Banchero has a smooth game that’s pleasing to the eye and he can do a bit of anything. He possesses impressive body control at 6’10” and a deadly spinning move that he uses often. The fade jump shot he uses is effective and nearly impossible to monitor at his size.
The biggest concerns with Banchero are on the defensive end. He lacks liveliness and can be put to good use on the perimeter. He also averaged less than one block per game despite his size. The Seattle native also needs to improve his perimeter shooting as he shot just 33.8 percent from beyond the three-point arc. It could use some handling improvement when the lane is clogged.
While the Rockets are likely disappointed not to land the first pick, it makes their decision easier in some ways. Jaden Ivery and Bennedict Mathurin should also be heavily watched, but there has been a pretty clear top three in this draft for some time. Expect Houston to sit down and grab whichever of the three are left.