A look at the Rockets’ draft options of the top four in the middle of the pack

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If nothing else, when the Rockets return to the lottery on June 22, among the three teams with the best lottery odds and with that night’s ping-pong ball bounce results potentially far more crucial to them than n No matter which team, they’ll know they’ve saved the bulk of their good fortune allowance.

The Rockets have hardly spent any luck on the season that puts them on the scene, or this season’s virtual version of the lottery spotlight. Even the designs that broke ties and dropped the Portland Trail Blazers’ 23rd pick that the Rockets hold haven’t used the chance they’ll need in just over three weeks.

The Rockets have been lucky in similar circumstances before. When they were relying on a raffle to win the right to write Ralph Sampson, former owner Charlie Thomas, President Ray Patterson and Director of Media Relations Jim Foley dipped silver dollars into glasses of whiskey Irishman in a New York saloon, then borrowed the bar’s wall clock for good luck the next day.

After that worked out, with two bounces from the play in Commissioner Larry O’Brien’s office ending with heads the winner and Steve Stipanovich the consolation prize, the band followed the same routine a year later, from whiskey to l clock, and won again, earn the right to draft Hakeem Olajuwon.

When the Rockets won the lottery in 2002, with Steve Francis and his lavender suit walking away with the right to draft Yao Ming (and the Bulls getting Jay Williams with the second pick), the Rockets were fortunate that their numbers increased to two. times, forcing another ping pong ball toss to determine the team with the second pick.

Even those drafts, however, might not be as vital to the team’s fortunes as next month’s, and not just because two of those teams already had Sampson and Francis.

If the Rockets don’t get a top-four pick, with just a 52.1 percent chance of doing so, the Oklahoma City Thunder would have the right to trade the Miami Heat’s pick for the Rockets’ pick. After ending the season with the worst record in the NBA, the Rockets could drop from fifth pick to 18th due to the first of the picks they sent to the Thunder with Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook.

In a draft considered unusually strong with players worthy of a top-four pick, that kind of fall would be devastating. This would be especially true for a team that hasn’t picked in the first round since 2015 (Sam Dekker) and has seen young franchise stars Luka Doncic, Ja Morant, Zion Williamson and Anthony Edwards land with the Conference teams. of the West in the three previous versions. .

With any sort of victory, enough to stay in the top four, the Rockets would have reason to rejoice after a season that rarely brought such opportunities. Fall down and they’ll choose from a very different group of players.

While the order of the draft at this point is extremely unpredictable, especially later in the first round, it does lead to a look at players with the potential to be in the three groups that could find the Rockets selection; five at the top of the draft, five of the Miami Heat’s post-lottery picks and five with the 23rd and 24th pick the Rockets over the Bucks and Trail Blazers.

The first five

Cade Cunningham, F, State of Oklahoma

Cunningham is not only the most comprehensive perspective of the project; he has been as complete as any player for many years while still having star potential. This will not only make him the first player chosen, regardless of the top pick (the Rockets have 14% pick first), his combination of size at 6-8, play and scoring ability inside, between. distance and from the 3 point line would make him an easy fit no matter how the Rockets roster develops.

Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite

Arguably the most explosive player in the draft, Green could move up to second, third or fourth, depending on how teams see his star potential. He had that kind of talent, not only athletically, but as a potential elite scorer.

Evan Mobley, C, USC

Mobley offers great length and great mobility and could become an ideal modern tall man. It needs to fill in a meager frame and will need some time, as you would expect for the teens caught up in the draft. This description might sound similar to Christian Wood’s, but the Rockets would likely take the prospect they love the most and worry about the need and the place later.

Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga

Suggs could be a polished, well-rounded prospect, meant to excel at both ends of the floor. That’s not to say he doesn’t have the top advantage in the draft, with the ability to excel as a goalscorer, playmaker and defender.

Jonathan Kuminga, F, Elite G League

While Kuminga increasingly looks likely to be fifth in the top five in front of the peloton, he also has an advantage that wouldn’t make him out of place by making a few picks earlier. An athletic wing, Kuminga was a top prospect before he excelled in the G League bubble.

The middle of Miami

Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas

As long as the Rockets assess the teens if they can stay in the top four, they can watch an 18-year-old in case they fall into Miami’s pick and he drops to 18. Moody seems to match Rafael’s taste. Stone for versatile defensemen with 3 and D skills. Some are predicting a rise in the lottery or even in the top 10 but for now he is emerging as a first round midfielder.

James Bouknight, SG, Connecticut

Another player with the potential to climb into the pre-draft process, Bouknight could also make Miami’s pick drop less damaging than she would feel on lottery night. Bouknight has sensational offensive stretches and could be effective on or off the ball.

Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford

If the Rockets fall, it might be a good idea to bet on the upside, especially with three first-round picks. Williams, who entered the supposedly some lottery pick season, has that kind of potential.

Kai Jones, PF, Texas

Jones will also need time to develop, but would be of exceptional size and potential for a player with a chance to be on the board at 18.

Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU

Among the top scorers in the draft, Thomas’ skills and attacking spirit should translate quickly. He was less efficient than teams might prefer, but it could because of his role and he could overcome these kinds of issues in practice.

Consecutive picks of the Blazers / Bucks

Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn

Daryl Morey’s first round pick as general manager was an undersized point guard, Aaron Brooks. Stone’s first turn might bring another. Cooper’s play and ball handling make up for a lack of size, especially with Cooper’s vision.

Jared Butler, PG / SG, Baylor

A different kind of guard than Cooper, Butler could also be on the set in the Blazers / Bucks lineup. Butler is more of a combo guard but can work on or off the ball and has similar defensive versatility, qualities Stone was known to look for in previous moves.

Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois

As with Butler, Dosunmu was an All-American who could offer unusual versatility as a player in the final third of the first round. Preliminary assessments might sway opinions, but he has shown potential as a shooter and playmaker with competitive fire on the defensive end.

Jalen Johnson, F, Duke

Johnson’s tough season at Duke has led to a wide variety of opinions, but he has the kind of advantages, with ball-handling skills and great stature, that could make him a good bet for a team with three first-round picks. He could get into the top 10, in the late lottery, or be a slippery player on draft night.

Tre Mann, G, Florida

Mann could go a lot sooner, but there is some potential to slip, which would make him good value if he reaches the Bucks / Blazers picks. Mann has the versatility to play either guard point with a shooting range that should translate.

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