Fourteen percent. That was the percentage chance the Houston Rockets had of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft and a shot at seven-foot-four wunderkind Victor Wembanyama. All it would take is a bounce of the ping pong balls the way it did for Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming to add yet another player to the legacy of bigs the franchise has leaned on for decades.
Over the last two years, the Rockets have similar chances to land the first pick, but wound up with the second in 2021 (Jalen Green) and the third in 2022 (Jabari Smith, Jr.). When NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum revealed the Rockets would be drafting fourth, it was disappointing, but not a complete disaster. The draft is widely thought to be top heavy with Wembanyama followed by G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson and Alabama freshman forward Brandon Miller as the best selections available. Just a tick below them is athletic wing, Amen Thompson.
Still, it's worth noting that the two teams above them, Charlotte and Portland, both have elite point guards on their roster. There is nothing precluding the Rockets from moving up to get Henderson given they have two first rounders and a boatload of young talent at their disposal.
Perhaps most frustrating was the fact that the San Antonio Spurs, a team that has lucked out on multiple occasions in the draft and a chief division rival, will wind up with the French unicorn, Wemby.
Rockets fans should not freak out, however. In addition to a new coach and a team of young talent, the organization has a pair of picks in the first round and nearly $60 million in cap space to spend in free agency.
Yes, Wembanyama could have dramatically changed the fortunes of the franchise...or not. The future is yet to be written on that. But, even if their prayers weren't answered, the future is bright for the Rockets.