Houston Rockets awarded No. 3 pick in NBA draft lottery

Rockets landed the 2nd overall pick in 2021, drafting star cornerstone Jalen Green.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Rockets to learn their NBA Draft Lottery fate
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It's almost time for the Rockets to learn their NBA Draft Lottery fate. Who would you want to see them take in the draft in June?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Rockets' ping-pong balls have spoken! The team, who finished last season with the worst record in the NBA, was awarded pick No. 3 for next month's NBA Draft.

The Rockets were among three teams that had the best chances at obtaining a top-four selection. Houston could not land any worse than the fifth pick.

The 2022 NBA Draft is set for Thursday, June 23. The first round will air live on ABC13. The full draft will be on ESPN.

A previous edition of this story can be found below.

The Rockets have a chance to rebuild with promising young pieces - again - with the best odds to nab a top-four pick in Tuesday night's NBA Draft Lottery.

If this sounds familiar, Houston was met with similar circumstances the year before when they were able to get the No. 2 pick, which turned into Jalen Green's selection.

Green, 20, flourished in his rookie year, becoming a No. 1 scoring option for the Rockets, who also acquired three other first-round talents in 2021: Josh Christopher, Usman Garuba, and Alperen Sengun, who has become the team's do-everything workhorse and a genuine fan favorite. Sengun was acquired from Oklahoma City in a draft-night trade.

The Rockets had three first-round picks to work with last year, but they have one less first-rounder heading into the 2022 NBA Draft. Houston has its own pick, which is being decided by a matter of ping-pong balls, and the Brooklyn Nets' No. 17 pick, which was acquired as part of the James Harden trade.

The draft lottery determines which team gets a top-four pick, and Houston's flashy but inconsistent season "won" them and two other teams - the Magic and the Pistons - top odds at No. 1 at a 14% chance.

Even if Houston misses out on the top overall pick, the team still has the best chances at picks two through four. All told, Houston has a better than 50% chance to land in the futile four at the top of the draft.

If for some reason the Rockets are shut out of the coveted positions - reminder: this is pretty much 50/50, they will default to the No. 5 pick after picking up the worst record in the past season at 20-62. The rest of the draft order outside the top four will be determined by the worst record among non-playoff teams.

The NBA Draft Lottery airs live on ESPN at 7 p.m. CT.

With the draft minutiae out of the way, who are the prospects that Rockets GM Rafael Stone is eyeing?

First, we need to take a look at the team's needs given the glut of players under 23 on the roster. ESPN's Bobby Marks believes the point guard position is a dire need, as well as making a run at a defensive playmaker in the frontcourt.

Chet Holmgren may address one of those needs. At 7 feet and 190 pounds - yes, he's super tall and skinny - the Gonzaga big man has what ESPN's Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz say an "elite combination of mobility, length and timing," which is showcased in Holmgren's 5.3 blocks per game.

Holmgren is a consensus No. 1 pick among experts, with ABC13 sports director Greg Bailey saying that he could be a "generational player."

That said, if Houston doesn't end up at the top of the draft lottery, Holmgren is guaranteed not to slip down the board regardless of the Rockets' position.

Outside of Holmgren, Houston could take a look at Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr., Duke forward Paolo Banchero, Purdue guard Jaden Ivey, and Iowa forward Keegan Murray, who are all considered impact players who can still contribute to the rebuilding Rockets.

"I do think we'll be a more talented team next year than we were this year and I actually think, just in terms of talent, we were a pretty talented team," Stone said. "We were just extraordinarily young. Chances are we'll be even younger next year, but you never know."

The 2022 NBA Draft is set for Thursday, June 23. The first round will air live on ABC13. The full draft will be on ESPN.

ESPN contributed to this article.