Sports

Ranking What the Rockets Might Do at Number Two

Who will the Rockets draft to pair with Christian Wood (left) and John Wall (right)?
Who will the Rockets draft to pair with Christian Wood (left) and John Wall (right)? Screenshot
After letting out a rather large exhale when the Rockets landed the second spot in this year's NBA draft, team faithful set to wonder just who the team might take. While the draft is still a month away, there is no shortage of discussion on social media and message boards about who the Rockets might select and, more importantly for some, who they should select.

For the benefit of simplicity, we are going to assume that the Detroit Pistons, who won the lottery and will draft first, take Cade Cunningham, a unique point-forward out of Oklahoma State. Fortunately, this is not one of those drafts with one big talent and that's it. For "superstar" potential, the 2021 draft is four to five players deep. Let's take a look at the Rockets options ranked from least to most likely.

Jonathan Kuminga, G/F
G League

Kuminga, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a hyper athletic swing man who bypassed college after prep school to play in the developmental league. He is solid at both ends of the floor but isn't terribly physical and is still a bit of a project from the floor where he shoots under 30 percent from three and just 55 percent from the free throw line. While he certainly has potential, he is likely too much of a project for the Rockets right now.

Trade the Pick

With the Rockets, you absolutely never know. GM Raphel Stone has said the team will be aggressive looking for young talent through the draft, free agency and trades. The number two pick in this draft, combined with their other first round picks, could allow them to trade down a spot or two and acquire a young player or trade out completely for a young superstar. But, unless it is a deal that is absolutely impossible to pass up, don't expect the Rockets to move the highest pick they have had since they took Yao Ming number one.


Pick Someone No One Expects

We throw this in here because it does happen. We don't expect it to happen and neither should you, but it isn't outside the realm of possibility. There are pro days and workouts going on around the league for a month. Players have rocketed up the draft boards for teams before. Now, not typically into the top five, but every year we think something strange won't happen in the draft and nearly ever year it does.

Evan Mobley, C
USC

Were Christian Wood not a member of the Houston Rockets, Mobley might be the clear and obvious choice here, but Wood and Mobley share a ton of similarities, too many to overlook. While Stone has said the team is not afraid of unique pairings and are willing to take the player they deem the best regardless of position, it's tough to imagine a pair of lanky, athletic stretch fives out there together nightly.

Jalen Suggs, PG
Gonzaga

A backcourt of Kevin Porter, Jr. and Suggs could be Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum part two. Suggs is great at both ends of the floor and is a natural, born leader. Comparisons to great point guards like Jason Kidd are no joke. But, there is one fairly glaring problem: Suggs isn't a good shooter. He averaged only 33 precent beyond the arc at Gonzaga. For all his offensive greatness, and there's a lot of it, the NBA essentially requires consistency from distance. Combine that with another talented young guard at virtually the same position already on the roster and Suggs feels like a long shot.

Jalen Green, SG
G League

Which brings us to what feels like the best fit for the Rockets. The "other Jalen," Green is another super athletic wing man with a massive wingspan and the ability to jump through the roof. Because he has been in the G League for a season, he's essentially NBA ready despite being only 19 years old. At such a young age, he still has a lot of room for growth, particularly as a shooter, where he is streaky. But he would fill an immediate need and help round out a lineup that has yet to replace James Harden. The big question is are the Rockets ready to take a shot at a teenager who may or may not be a team leader and superstar? He might make the most sense position-wise, but do Stone and others believe he has the intangibles? We'll find out in July.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke