Houston clunking around in the bottom of the Western Conference has a benefit: the team is significantly increasing the chances that it will keep its first-round pick.
The Rockets sent their pick to the Thunder in the Russell Westbrook trade back in 2019, though the selection is top-4 protected. The franchise currently owns the second-worst record in the league and through three-fourths of the season, there’s no reason to believe the team is going to go on a major run up the standings.
Houston is likely to pick a few more times in the first round. While the team is unlikely to see the Pistons’ first-rounder (protected from 1-16) from the Christian Wood deal, Milwaukee’s and Portland’s selections have a high probability of heading to Houston. The Blazers owe their pick to the Rockets courtesy of Portland trading for Robert Covington (protected 1-14) and the Bucks’ first-rounder is likely to arrive in Houston via the P.J. Tucker deal (Houston can swap their first-rounder
More on the Rockets
- In his latest mock draft, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report has the Rockets taking USC big man Evan Mobley with the No. 2 overall pick. While Jalen Suggs’ strong tournament has the Gonzaga point guard rising rapidly, many scouts still have Mobley ahead of the field for the second spot in the draft (Cade Cunningham is expected to be the first pick). Wasserman adds that Houston’s front office could envision the Mobley-Wood fit in the frontcourt.
- LSU’s Cameron Thomas could be a fit for Houstons at No. 22 (Portland’s pick), Wasserman writes in the same piece. The shooting guard “won’t offer any playmaking or defense,” the scribe writes while adding that Thomas could create his own shot. At No. 23 (Milwaukee’s pick), Wasserman has Auburn’s Sharife Cooper heading to Houston. The point guard is a play-maker, though questionable shooting could have him falling to this spot and beyond.
- The John Wall experiment in Houston isn’t working out, Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle contends. Wall, who is taking 18.1 shots per game (the second-highest mark in his career) was brought in to be a piece next to James Harden, though the franchise ultimately shipped the former MVP to Brooklyn. Questions around Wall’s future with the club with swirl this summer but at least the franchise will, in all likelihood, have a young prospect on the roster, courtesy of Wall’s comeback/zealous season. Isn’t that success given the situation Harden’s exit left them in?