The Houston Rockets have a chance at accelerating the timeline for the looming rebuild in this years draft. Not only do they have the 2nd overall pick, but back-to-back late 1st round picks at 23 and 24. If the Rockets front office has a good draft, the Rockets will look back on this draft as a domino falling for an eventual contender to be. The 2nd overall pick holds a lot of weight and the consensus top 2 draft prospects are Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley. If the Rockets can secure one of those 3 prospects they will be in good shape for the future. Of course Cade is by far the best player in this years draft, but if the Rockets were to actually attempt to trade the top 2 pick the only trade that makes sense would be to trade up.
#GreenGang vs. #MobleyMob
Rockets fans have argued and debated over who the Rockets should pick with the 2nd overall pick and there are strong arguments on both sides but neither are willing to budge. The ultimate decision maker will be the Rockets front office, and they deserve trust in this situation.
The Rockets have drafted generational talents with previous top picks. The structure of the organization has changed but the goals are all the same. The Rockets want to build a contender. Luckily in this situation there’s honestly no wrong answer to this puzzle. Picking either Green or Mobley will be a huge boost to an already talented youth core. Who the Rockets take at 2nd overall is very much up for debate but there’s no debate that the Rockets will be fine with either Green or Mobley.
The Rockets front office will have a hard decision on which prospect to pick at 2nd overall. Jalen Green is a springy wing that has every offensive technique in his bag already at only 19 years old. Green’s NBA comparisons are Bradley Beal and Devin Booker, elite scorers that can make every offensive read even under pressure. Jalen Green opted into skipping college and going straight into the G-League. Green had a decent season against pro talent. Green averaged 19 PPG, 4 RPG, and 3 APG in his one and done season with the G-League’s Ignite.
Green is by far one of the best shooting guard prospects in the last decade. No prospect is perfect though and Green has a few question marks to his game. Green takes tough shots but he also makes them more than average. His shot selection is questionable, his playmaking is not exactly crisp the but the potential is still there.
The Rockets also have the choice to select the Pac-12 ROY and DPOY Evan Mobley. Mobley is a unicorn and there’s really not someone you can compare him to. If you combine the offensive versatility of Anthony Davis, switchable like Bam Adebayo, and the defensive impact like Rudy Gobert you’ll get a player close to the archetype of Evan Mobley.
Mobley was one of the best big men in the country, averaging 16 PPG, 9 RPG, 3 BPG. He is the prototypical new age big man on both ends with his soft touch from the mid range to being a legit threat from deep. On defense Mobley can get down in his stance and lock up on the perimeter 1-5. Mobley can also hold his own down low having the potential to reek havoc all over the court.
No matter your preference on who you think the Rockets should pick at 2nd overall they are in a good position for the future. The Rockets can have a top tier backcourt if they draft Jalen Green or they can construct the Twin Towers 2.0 if they choose Evan Mobley.
In previous articles I predicted that the Rockets would pick Jalen Green at 2nd overall but if the Rockets do pick Evan Mobley I wouldn’t be mad at all. Jalen Green just has the “IT” factor and the reports of Mobley’s “Love for the game” is not a serious knock to his stock but it does hold some weight. Either way, the Rockets are propelling the rebuild forward a couple years.
What should the Rockets do with picks 23/24?
The Rockets have some flexibility with picks 23 and 24. They can trade the picks to move up for a higher mid round pick or trade down for more assets. They can even load up the picks in a package for the first overall pick if they are willing to risk it all for Cade.
The Rockets will most likely stay put and make away with three great prospects, any trade with the picks is a risk. The Rockets are at the start of their rebuild and they need to get this draft right in order to accelerate the process. Having back-to-back picks at the end of the 1st round combined with the 2nd overall pick is a great position to be in for the Rockets.
This years draft is very deep and the Rockets will be able to choose from a host of prospects with their late-round picks. Who the Rockets draft with the 2nd overall pick may determine who they select at the end of the round. If the Rockets select Jalen Green then the Rockets may want to look for a big man and a wing with their 23rd and 24th picks.
Mock Drafts are just potential possibilities so no need to go over who the Rockets are projected to take. The Rockets need young dependable talent and there are plenty of prospects that will fall to the 23rd and 24th pick. Kai Jones sticks out for the Rockets if they end up passing on Mobley. An athletic floor spacing big is the prototypical big for the Rockets and Jones may be the 2nd best prospect at the power forward position. Jones may not be attainable at 23, Isiah Jackson is projected to be selected at 23 by the Rockets. He’s a springy energetic big that could fit well in Houston.
Other potential prospects for the Rockets are Cameron Thomas; he’s the definition of a “bucket.” JT Thor, a potential unicorn who’s 6’10 and can do everything on the court. Tre Mann, a 6’5 scorer with playmaking potential. Chris Duarte, one of the best 3&D prospects in the draft. Jared Butler, a scrappy guard that is a threat from deep. Sharife Cooper, the best playmaker in this years draft and also Miles McBride, a perimeter defender that can also play off ball.
At 23 and 24 there will be plenty of young talent ready to be picked but the Rockets need more wings and big men for their roster. There’s currently a log jam in the backcourt in Houston. The Rockets currently have 9 guards on the roster led by John Wall, Kevin Porter Jr. and Eric Gordon.
Plan For The Future
The Rockets are still trying to find an identity as a team. Coach Silas has done an amazing job so far rallying his team together to focus on the future of the Rockets. No matter who the Rockets draft the team will have to grow together. Building a culture as a collective group does wonders for young prospects, helping them engage to the tough grind in the NBA.
Young teams like the Bucks, Suns, Hawks, and Grizzles are going to be a force for years to come if they keep their youth together. The 2021 Finals showed us some of the future of the NBA. The 2 time MVP, DPOTY, champion and Finals MVP just proved how a team can evolve and grow together even with guys that weren’t projected to be drafted in the 1st round. One of the most important attributes a young, talented contender has is cohesion.
If the Rockets draft Evan Mobley, they will have an elite frontcourt and will be almost impossible to stop at their peak. If the Rockets draft Jalen Green, they will have the best young backcourt in the league. Having two elite guards that have every move in their bag is a deadly combo.
The Rockets have a roster full of young talent that have plenty of potential. Christian Wood, Jae’sean Tate, KJ Martin, and Armoni Brooks will be on the roster for the foreseeable future and they can build a serious contender if they continue to grow together. The end goal for the Rockets is to win a championship of course, but there’s still work to be done to reach the ultimate goal.
The timeline for the youth on the Rockets is at least 5 years. Some of the vets on the roster are too expensive long term and don’t fit the timeline for the youth movement. Vets like John Wall, Eric Gordon, and Danuel House Jr. may be on the move in the near future to open up room for more youth and to financially unbind the Rockets front office. There are rumors of trades involving John Wall and Eric Gordon ahead of the this years draft and the Rockets have to take a look at them at the least. The chances the Rockets make a huge draft night trade that doesn’t include the first overall pick are slim, but I’m sure Rafael Stone and the entire Rockets front office will do their due diligence.
Main Image Credit: