When the Rockets chose to keep Eric Gordon at the February 2022 trade deadline, part of the rationale involved general manager Rafael Stone not wanting a draft pick late in the 2022 first round. Because Houston’s roster is already deep with prospects and future picks, there’s little incentive to acquire another mid-tier prospect without available minutes.
Thus, some around the NBA were surprised when the primary asset in this week’s Christian Wood trade was the No. 26 overall pick from Dallas. But it appears that was due to it simply being the best available value for Wood, as opposed to the Rockets genuinely wanting to add a third 2022 first-round pick to their roster for the upcoming 2022-23 season.
Per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Houston wants to consolidate assets and go for quality over quantity — and that may involve trading up from No. 17 or even from Houston’s top pick at No. 3. He writes:
No. 3 summary: The Rockets now they have the 26th pick in addition to the third and 17th picks. With three firsts, a bunch of future picks, and youth on the roster, they’ve inquired about moving up into one of the two top spots. Whether they’re targeting (Jabari) Smith, (Chet) Holmgren, or (Paolo) Banchero, Jalen Green showed during his rookie year that he’s a rising star in need of a running mate.
No. 17 summary: The Rockets are looking to package this pick in trades to move up and acquire an additional late lottery pick.
Whether the Rockets are able to actually execute one of those moves remains to be seen. But entering the final few days leading up to the draft on Thursday, June 23, it certainly makes sense for them to try.
Morning after the NBA Finals, here’s a new 2022 mock draft updated with the latest intel, trade chatter, risers and fallers: https://t.co/sAIg3lLHSe
— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 17, 2022