In one week from today, Houston Rockets fans everywhere will be watching with nervous anticipation of what the future could, or could not, hold. The NBA draft lottery will shape the franchise for the next generation of the team. Will the Rockets get the No. 1 pick and select Cade Cunningham? Will they retain their top-4 pick and take one of the other top prospects in this class? Or will they lose the flip of the coin and fall to the middle of the draft? One thing is for sure, I have no idea how I will be able to watch this thing next Tuesday.
To prepare for the day, we asked some of our contributors here at Apollo to answer a few questions about the draft and about the Rockets in general. Let’s get into it!
How do you rank the three top prospects for the Rockets after Cade Cunningham?
Drew Middleton (@htx_drew_):
The top four prospects in this year’s draft have some of the best potential we have seen in a while. However, the consensus is that Cade Cunningham will go No. 1 no matter who gets that pick. So the three prospects that will be available after Cunningham are Jalen Green, Jared Suggs, and Evan Mobley. I would say that Mobley would be the best out of the three due to his pure potential and he would fit perfectly next to Christian Wood. Second, I would put Jalen Green. His play against NBA-level talent in the G-League Bubble was impressive and the Rockets have a lot of guards, so a forward like Green would be a great addition. Third, I would rank Jalen Suggs. This does not mean that he is a bad pick, but I think the other two have more potential.
Brad LeBlanc (@HakeemThe_Dr34m):
1. Jalen Green
2. Evan Mobley
3. Jalen Suggs
Dex Hinton (@DexHinton):
1. Jalen Green
2. Jalen Suggs
3. Evan Mobley
I don’t think the Rockets can go wrong at all with a top 4 pick if we were to get one. I like a second wing scorer’s fit over Mobley as a big. Green looks a little more advanced as a scorer to my untrained eye than Suggs.
Dalton Pence (@dpence_):
1. Evan Mobley
2. Jalen Green
3. Jalen Suggs
Who are two mid-round prospects that the Rockets can look to draft?
The Rockets have two first round picks that are in the middle of this year’s draft. The 2021 draft class is one of the deepest we have seen in a while. That being said, the Rockets will have a lot of great options in that part of the draft. Two of my favorite prospects that could be available are Kai Jones and Ayo Dosunmu. Jones is a solid PF/C that showed a lot of potential in his two years of college play. Dosunmu is a combo guard that is 6’5 and versatile on the offensive end of the floor.
Great question! There are so many options and I really love this draft class. If I had to pick two at this moment, they would be:
1. Jared Butler
2. Josh Christopher
Jared Butler – He can score from anywhere on the court, he can defend in isolation and is active off the ball (and I’m a biased Baylor Bear).
Kai Jones – Brings some more defensive versatility to the frontcourt, as we’ve seen Christian Wood can struggle to defend more physical bigs in the post. He also shot 38% from 3 in college so if that can translate at all in the pros he’ll be an intriguing project.
1. Jared Butler
2. Isaiah Jackson
Should the Rockets look to trade Christian Wood if the price is right?
Recently, there has been a lot of discussion within Rockets twitter about possibly trading Christian Wood. My short answer to this is absolutely not. He should be part of the roster that is considered untouchable. Even if the Rockets are offered a top ten pick and some assets, I would still say no. The reasoning behind it is that the draft pick may never turn into a very talented player like Christian Wood. Also, he was a big free-agent signing for the team in the off-season and he has expressed his desire to be here and how much he loves the city of Houston. You do not trade a player at his age who has not entered their prime yet for any package that centers around a draft pick.
I’ll be honest, I’m not very keen on the idea of the Rockets trading Christian Wood. I really enjoyed his first year in Houston and I believe he’s a great fit in the Silas offense. But I will say this: if GS drops a package that includes a pick from 4-10 (Via Minnesota) along with their other lottery pick and Wiseman/Wiggins. Then man… You have to think about it. I think that’s the only scenario where I can trade Wood (and pieces for salary matching purposes).
Even with that being said, I don’t think GS would be willing to offer that much in the first place.
I’d listen to offers, but I’d lean toward not trading him. I don’t think a Wood trade gets you very much in a vacuum, unless you can get off the John Wall contract elsewhere. But I would do it for a top 5 pick in this draft if we kept our own draft pick as well.
In no instance should the Rockets look to trade Christian Wood.
What are reasonable expectations for the Rockets next year?
The expectations for the 2021-2022 Rockets would likely be like this year’s Memphis Grizzlies. The Rockets should be a competitive team in regards to making the play-in tournament. With the additions of a top 4 draft pick along with mid-round prospects, the team can be pretty competitive and fun to watch. Also, the team will have had a full and complete off-season to practice going over Silas’ system and how they want to approach the offensive and defensive sides of the floor. I’m looking forward to next season and getting to see the development of a new era of Rockets basketball.
The Rockets might not make the playoffs next year due to them having an extremely young roster, and that’s okay in my eyes. However, I do expect them to compete and potentially make the play in-game. They played well last year despite having the worst record in the NBA, and I think their record will more so reflect that in 2021-2022 with a healthier roster on their hands.
Obviously, the roster could potentially be in flux. John Wall, Eric Gordon, Kelly Olynyk, potentially picks 1-4 and 22-23 are all question marks. But I’ll just answer based on right now. Don’t aggregate me. I think given a full offseason and better injury luck, the Rockets could be in the mix for the play-in tournament until fairly late in the season. G-league lineups and rookie mistakes shouldn’t be as big of an issue as they were last season and I see the Rockets finishing some of the fake comebacks we came to know and love. Rockets finish 11th in the West.
If the Rockets secure a top-4 pick, realistic expectations should be to contend for the play-in.
Thank you to the contributors who shared their input on these topics! Go follow them on Twitter. We’ll be back next week for one more pre-lottery roundtable.