I played GM for a day.
It’s a yearly tradition here at SB Nation where the site managers all participate in a mock draft. It’s a tradition that I sat out of for a while, since before last season, the Houston Rockets didn’t have a first-round pick since Sam Dekker in 2015. But I’ve been making it up these last two years. I had three picks last year (which the Rockets turned to four on draft night), and now I have another three picks this season.
The only rule is that there were no trades because we felt it could take too long/become too convoluted, so it’s just a straight draft. So without further ado, here are my picks for this year.
Pick #3 – Paolo Banchero – 6’10” Forward – Duke
There’s been some bluster this past week that the Oklahoma City Thunder could be interested in Banchero, but consequently, we’ve also heard how much the Rockets like him and might even be willing to trade up for him if need be.
Banchero is not my top player in the draft (that honor goes to Jabari Smith Jr.), but Banchero is a close second and just a few short months ago was considered the top player in the draft. His lone season at Duke did nothing to dissuade scouts about his potential, as he averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists with the Blue Devils, and he appears to have the capability to complement Jalen Green in a backcourt-frontcourt role of scoring and playmaking.
At one point, Houston was thought to be interested in Jaden Ivey, but with the Christian Wood trade, that appears to be off the table, and the Rockets are likely to grab the best big man available. Other than Smith falling, for me, this is the best possible scenario for Houston.
Pick #17 – Ousmane Dieng – 6’10” Forward – New Zealand Breakers (NBL)
Houston continues to address their frontcourt with the Dieng pick, and with rumors he has been shooting up draft boards recently due to his immense ceiling, I feel fortunate that Dieng fell to me at 17. He’s a little different than Banchero in that he’s not as NBA ready, but that’s okay. Houston is already developing a boatload of young guys, and adding a more long-term project into the fold is not a bad thing.
Dieng is going to need some seasoning, but the 19-year-old has the promise to become similar to Pascal Siakam if he’s developed properly. Houston has a famous development program headed up by John Lucas, and if Dieng does in fact fall this far, this is once again an ideal situation for the Rockets.
That is if they keep this pick. I think there’s a good chance Houston tries to package picks 26 and 17 to move up in the draft, but for our trade-less purposes in this mock, this is a big win for the Rockets.
Pick #26 – Marjon Beauchamp – 6’6” Guard/Forward – G-League Ignite
The draft continues to fall my way. Should Houston elect to keep this pick, this is pretty much an ideal scenario. TyTy Washington was surprisingly still on the board when I made this pick, and I did consider him here, but with the rumors that Houston management loves Daishen Nix, I think they go Beauchamp, who did work out for the Rockets and they are reportedly high on.
The 21-year-old Beauchamp averaged 15.1 points and 7.6 rebounds this past season for Ignite, and while he shot just 24.2 percent from three and needs to improve there, he is an athletic defender and scorer who could become an ideal three-and-D wing should that long-range shot continue to get better.
Like Dieng, Beauchamp is a longer-term project, but if Houston does in fact keep all these picks, that’s three more rookies added to last year’s four-player group, so there needs to be some promising longer-range guys in there somewhere. You can’t develop them all at once.
The entire SB Nation site manager’s mock draft can be found here. Make sure you check it out to see who I passed on in favor of these guys before you tell me what you think of my picks.