Houston Rockets NBA Draft Review
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General Manager Rafael Stone and the Houston Rockets front office won another draft.
Coming into the draft, there was a lot of conversation over picks two through four in the 2023 NBA Draft. Where will guard Scoot Henderson land with the Charlotte Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers having point guards already? Can guard Amen Thompson move up to two or three? Will guard/forward Brandon Miller fall because of his off the court issues?
Ultimately the draft ended up playing out exactly how many thought it would. Forward Victor Wembanyama went first overall to the San Antonio Spurs. Miller went second to the Hornets. Henderson was selected third by the Trail Blazers. Thompson was picked fourth by Houston.
Thompson brings incredible athleticism and elite playmaking skills to a Houston roster that is quickly filling up with 6'5" and taller athletic playmakers. Thompson also gives Houston a long leash with their roster creativity. He can certainly play point guard. He showed that at a high level with Overtime Elite, but his ability to play off the ball and create when necessary is what Rockets fans might be the most excited about. Thompson's ability to create different angles offensively off the pass or moving without the ball will add another layer to what, most certainly, is already a top five pass offense in the upcoming season.
Decision time came after the fourth pick was made. Does Houston trade up, or will they stay still and wait? -- That saying "good things come to those who wait," well, I have good news for Rockets fans.
Forward Cam Whitmore graded out as somewhere between the third and fifth best prospect in this draft. However, come draft night, something changed. The longer he sat in the green room the more stories we heard about poor workouts, not-so-great interviews with teams, so he waited, and waited and the Rockets waited, and waited.
Pick number 20 arrived and, wouldn't you know it, Whitmore was sitting right there at the top of the board. By all accounts, the Rockets got the steal of the draft. A few weeks ago there was conversation inside Rockets' rooms as to whether or not they should take Whitmore with the number four pick. They got him at number 20.
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Obviously, his slide down the draft will need to be addressed. With a head coach like Ime Udoka at the helm, I believe Rockets fans are not as worried about that as perhaps they would be with past coaches. Whitmore did have some odd stretches of play during his lone season at Villanova, but he also had some great stretches of basketball. Much to expect with an 18-year-old freshman. Take the good with the bad. Whitmore's upside is incredibly high according to almost any scout you talk to around the league.
Whitmore also brings versatility, athleticism, the ability to finish and a high motor to the young squad. He shot 65% in the paint last season and shot 40% on catch-and-shoot threes. With the ball handlers around Whitmore in Houston, he will have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of those two areas on the court.
The kitchen in Houston is starting to get crowded with young talent all looking for minutes and touches, don't be surprised if three or four Rockets names are thrown around in trade talks for the rest of the summer.
Draft Grade: A