The Houston Rockets are one of the teams that are centered around the draft buzz with multiple 1st rounds picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. During the Rockets draft, they may want to explore packaging picks 23 and 24 if they want another high-end prospect, but there are also reasons to stay put.
The Rockets will have a top 4 lottery pick at best, including the 23rd and 24th picks at the tail end of the 1st round. The Rocket’s land in the lottery may determine many decisions leading up to the draft. We’ll weigh the pros and cons of packaging picks for the Rockets.
Rockets draft: Is packaging picks a good idea?
The Rockets have a lot of leverage when it comes to this year’s draft. Whether they hold onto their picks or package them for other assets is a win-win situation in most cases. Where the Rockets land in the lottery is a huge factor for the future of this franchise. The Rockets must land top 4 in order to keep their pick any lower and it goes to the OKC Thunder. At that point, the Rockets would have the 18th pick (from Miami) along with the 23rd and 24th picks.
Is packaging picks a good idea in this Rockets draft? The answer is yes, but it all depends on how high they can move up. If the Rockets can convince another team to give up their pick in the top 15-20 range, I believe the trade is worth it. Teams like the Knicks, Grizzlies, Celtics, and Wizards have picks in the range to make sense for both parties. The only thing that I would evade is attaching anything else to the deal other than the 23rd and 24th pick unless they are moving into the top 10.
Rockets draft: What prospects should the Rockets target if they trade up?
If the Rockets were to trade up in the draft, they would have to target someone worth giving up two back-to-back draft spots. The Rocket’s land in the lottery also matters here because depending on who they can snag in the lottery will shape how the organization wants to move. Let’s say the Rockets get the 2nd or 3rd pick. I believe they should draft Jalen Green. If the Rockets were to package picks in that situation to move up, a likely prospect to target would be Kai Jones out of Texas, Jared Butler out of Baylor, and Usman Garuba out of Real Madrid.
In a scenario in this Rockets draft they select Evan Mobley, the Rockets should for sure consider packaging picks to move up for a top-tier guard in the draft. The perfect prospect to fit the bill would be Josh Giddey out of the NBL’s Adelaide 36ers. Giddey would be perfect next to Kevin Porter Jr., who is being groomed to become the Rockets point guard of the future. At 6’8, Giddey could be a dangerous combo guard that can lead the bench units and immediately impact 18 years old.
If the Rockets do indeed end up with the 1st overall pick winning the Cade sweepstakes there’s no need for more guards on the team taking away from the development of the backcourt of Cade and KPJ. Packaging picks 23 and 24 would still make sense but prospects like Kai Jones or even Corey Kispert would make sense for the future of the franchise. Jones could develop behind Christian Wood learning from one of the best young floor spacing bigs in the league. In Kispert the Rockets would gain an absolute sniper which is a need for this team. With a solid 6’8 frame Kispert could develop into a decent defender.
Would packaging picks pay off?
The 2021 NBA draft is loaded with a variety of different talents. The Rockets have the opportunity to acquire a jump start of talent in this year’s draft. Packaging picks to move up give the Rockets a better chance at finding higher-quality young talent. The chance only makes sense if the Rockets trade up at least 5-6 spots in the draft. If the Rockets have a chance moving up in the draft by packaging picks it’s worth the chance at another great player. It is a chance at the end of the day and there are cons to packaging picks in trade over picking multiple late-round draft picks.
Some cons for packaging picks would be that the Rockets are giving up a chance at picking up 3 1st round picks in favor of at most 2. There’s also a chance the Rockets end up trading up and missing a diamond in the rough later in the draft. A draft picks will always be the opportunity to bust, as previously mentioned, but it would leave a sour taste in the organization’s mouth if they take a risk and it doesn’t pay off. Considering all opportunities, packaging picks would only have a payoff if the Rockets move up to at least the 16th pick.
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