Houston Rockets NBA Draft Picks, Needs, Targets: Is Banchero A No-Brainer?

After selecting Jalen Green with the second overall pick in 2021, Houston will again be picking towards the top of the draft this year; the Rockets have been gifted the third overall pick this season by the powers that be (the lottery), and there are several prospects they could go with at No. 3, No. 17, and No. 26. Houston is in the midst of a significant rebuild but has some talent to build around, including last year’s No. 2 pick Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba, Josh Christopher, and a few other high-ceiling guys. Houston needs defense and true point guard play desperately; everything else would help its cause more in the long-term, but would not address immediate concerns. See which prospects I think will be great fits in Houston and whether or not they are feasible for the Rockets given their position in the draft.

Houston Rockets Draft Picks

  • 1 (3)
  • 1 (17)
  • 1 (26)

Houston Rockets Draft Needs

Houston may not have landed the coveted first overall pick, but in a draft that features four players that seem to be the top tier, it will at least walk away with one of those guys. The current favorite player to go first overall to the Orlando Magic is Jabari Smith Jr, a smooth 6-foot-10 power forward with a pure jump shot and high defensive upside. If that happens, there’s a strong likelihood that Oklahoma City will snag the unicorn, Chet Holmgren, with the second pick, leaving Paolo Banchero or Jaden Ivey for the Houston Rockets. Ivey probably does not make as much sense because of the fit, but any of those forwards would be great in Houston because of their defensive upside and offensive talent. Banchero is my favorite to go to the Rockets because of their style of play, which is fast-paced. Banchero has excellent straight-line speed, vertical athleticism, transition scoring, and playmaking for a power forward. The fit makes sense and is also the most likely outcome.

Houston Rockets Draft Targets

  • Paolo Banchero

Banchero is the most likely to fall to the Rockets at No. 3 right now and that would actually be the best-case scenario for them. The Rockets just traded Christian Wood to the Dallas Mavericks for several role players and the No. 26 pick in this year’s draft, which opens the door for Banchero to start immediately. He would join a frontcourt that features Alperen Sengun, a crafty big with excellent footwork.

    • Ousmane Dieng

    An option that makes sense to me with the No. 17 pick is Ousmane Dieng, a professional player out of the NBL in Australia. Dieng is a 6-foot-10 small forward with some flashes of guard capabilities, including being the primary ball-handler in the pick-and-roll. If he somehow drops to the Rockets in the mid-first round, I would be shocked if they pass him up He will be a long-term project, but his upside, size, length, and playmaking are undeniable and well-worth a pick in the middle of the first round.

    • TyTy Washington

    It was evident throughout last season that Houston still needs a true point guard who can help take over some of the lead guard duties from Kevin Porter Jr and Jalen Green. TyTy Washington would quickly provide a solution to that problem, rounding out Houston’s backcourt of the future. That opportunity may be too good to pass up, especially considering the Rockets will have almost certainly picked a power forward with their first selection.

    Recent Houston Rockets Draft Picks & Tendencies

    • 2021: Jalen Green – 2nd Overall, Usman Garuba – 23rd Overall, Josh Christopher – 24th Overall
    • 2015: Sam Dekker – 18th Overall
    • 2014: Clint Capela – 25th Overall
    • 2012: Jeremy Lamb – 12th Overall, Royce White – 16th Overall, Terrence Jones – 18th Overall
    • 2011: Marcus Morris – 14th Overall, Nikola Mirotic – 23rd Overall
    • 2010: Patrick Patterson – 14th Overall
    • 2008: Nicolas Batum – 25th Overall
    • 2007: Aaron Brooks – 26th Overall

    It should be noted that the Houston Rockets did not have any first-round picks from 2016 through 2020. Their three most recent picks in the first round were last year and that is all we have to judge them on at the moment. Houston loves guys with super high ceilings and isn’t afraid to select or trade for international players like Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba, and Clint Capela. The Rockets have also not shied away from grabbing guys with no collegiate experience in recent years. That should not impact their selection with the third overall pick this year but could mean that Dieng is an ideal player for them in the middle of the first round.

    Drew is a lead NBA writer at Lineups.com where he has been covering in-season basketball coverage to the NBA Draft. He is a former collegiate player who now spends time diving into NBA prospects and evaluating the analytics of the NBA.

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