The suspense of last week’s NBA Draft Lottery selection was so intense that Rockets’ general manager Rafael Stone decided he wasn’t even going to watch.
It’s probably a good thing since it came down to a dramatic ending between the Detroit Pistons and the Rockets for the No.1 selection. Stone’s team came away with the second-overall pick in the upcoming July 29 NBA Draft.
But now comes the hard part as Stone and his staff are tasked with deciding what to do with the major draft capital they hold. This seems to be an extremely talented draft class from 1 to 5, then there is a steep drop-off.
What that means is either the Rockets can draft an impact player to go with their young core of players or they can package the pick with another, or a problematic contract like that of veteran point guard John Wall for a proven NBA player to expedite the growth process.
Decisions … Decisions.
“We have to figure out if drafting is the right thing,” said Stone, who also holds the 23rd and 24th selections in the first round of this draft. “But it’s better than all but one alternative. We’re excited. We were excited coming into the draft because we felt like we are going to exit with really an improved team. And we are still really excited.”
With dynamic point guard Cade Cunningham seeming to be a lock as the No.1 overall pick by the Pistons, the Rockets can turn to one of three players with the No.2 pick. Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley and Jalen Green could each have a substantial impact on the Rockets roster.
But that is if Stone decides to keep the pick, which he clearly hasn’t at this point.
“We have been working on the draft for what seems like an extraordinarily long period of time now,” Stone said. “But we still have (a month) to go so we will keep doing all of our work. We will research all of the players in the draft, not just one or two, and will try to figure out the best way to move forward.”
But let’s say Stone decides to keep the pick, here is a closer look at the most likely candidates.
Position: Point Guard Height: 6-foot-9
Most recent experience: Freshman point guard at Oklahoma State
The breakdown: Cunningham is not expected to be there when the Rockets pick, but there are rumblings that the Pistons could go another direction with the No.1 overall selection. If that is the case, Cunningham and his versatility, defensive ability, along with his beyond-his-year offensive skill set, make him the easy pick for the Rockets.
Position: Center Height: 7-foot
Most recent experience: Played as a freshman at USC
The breakdown: Generally speaking, Mobley is regarded as the second-best player in the draft. Although he doesn’t seem to fit an immediate need with Christian Wood already in the post, it’s hard to overlook his talent. Mobley, who averaged 19.3 points and 10.2 rebounds last season, is a mobile defender and rim protector who can create offense and space the floor with his 3-point shooting ability.
Position: Shooting Guard Height: 6-foot-5
Most recent experience: Played last season for the G-League Ignite team
The breakdown: Green could be the breakout star of this draft. He is a capable scorer who can create his own shot. His explosiveness is exactly what the young Rockets are missing, which would make him an immediate asset on both ends of the floor.
Position: Point Guard Height: 6-foot-4
Most recent experience: Played his freshman year for Gonzaga
The breakdown: While Suggs is primarily looked at as the fourth-best player in this draft, he seems to fit the Rockets greatest need, and that is a point guard of the future. The consensus All-American is a natural floor general who can create for others as well as create for himself. Suggs led the Bulldogs to the national championship game with big shots and big plays throughout the NCAA Tournament.