Houston Rockets NBA Mock Draft Roundup

Leading up to the 2023 NBA Draft, we will update our Houston Rockets Mock Draft Roundup showing picks for the Houston Rockets from several prominent sites and draft analysts.

The following are picks in recent mock drafts for the Rockets:

The Rookie Wire — Cody Taylor (5/19)

4. Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite

The Rockets will have the opportunity to draft Thompson and fill an immediate need in the backcourt. Of the Thompson twins, Amen is viewed more as a point guard with his ability to run the offense and get others involved. He is super athletic and would be exciting to watch next to Jalen Green next season and beyond.

He recently measured in with a 7-foot wingspan at the draft combine, a massive number relative to his 6-foot, 7-inch frame. With his length and athleticism, Thompson offers plenty of potential on the defensive end of the floor and could develop into a 3-and-D player at the next level with development.

20. Dereck Lively II, Duke

Lively emerged as an excellent rim protector and overall defender with the Blue Devils, ranking eighth in the country in blocks. He would be able to step into any situation and immediately help shore up their interior defense, including the Rockets. He could even go higher than this position after a strong showing at his pro day and in workouts.

CBS Sports — Gary Parrish (5/17)

4. Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite

Thompson is a big and super-athletic guard with a unique ability to shot-create and deliver passes most prospects his age can't even see. The Rockets are still very much in a take-the-best-prospect-available mode, and this is the Thompson twin who checks that box.

20. Kobe Bufkin, Michigan

Bufkin didn't enter the season with first-round projections but eventually established himself at Michigan as an interesting two-way player. He made 35.5% of the 3.7 3-pointers he attempted per game, which is a respectable number for a 6-4 guard.

Sporting News — Kyle Irving (5/17)

4. Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite

The Rockets finished with the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA last season and they could use some guard depth. Amen becomes a perfect fit alongside Jalen Green in the backcourt as a defensive-minded playmaker.

Amen will be one of two Thompson twins to hear their names called in the top 10 in this draft. The Overtime Elite star showed out for his team in the OTE Playoffs, posting 17.2 points, 9.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while leading the City Reapers to a championship.

Amen is a two-way threat as an explosive athlete and disruptive defender. His growth as a playmaker elevated his draft stock, even if there are still lingering questions about his jump shot.

20. Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas

The Rockets are another rebuilding team looking to take the best player available under almost any circumstance. If Smith were to fall to No. 20, that could give Houston a potential home run swing.

Smith was limited to just 17 games during his freshman season due to a troublesome knee injury. He never looked quite right when he was available, but he showed snippets of why the shifty and athletic guard was once projected to be the first college basketball player off the board.

The three-level scorer should still receive lottery consideration because of his potential but if teams weigh into his production, he could fall into the 20s range.

The Athletic — Sam Vecenie (5/16)

4. Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite

The Scout: The first of the Thompson twins to go, Amen is the point guard of the duo. He's an electric athlete out in space and in transition, where he can drive easy buckets as a genuine top one percent athlete in the NBA. He has a great first step and is an elite leaper and also has tremendous hang time and body control in the air. He attacks the basket aggressively. But he also is a very high-level passer and playmaker who can find his teammates from all sorts of angles and positions. Defensively, Thompson has some real mechanical issues to clean up, but his length and athleticism gives him all sorts of upside, and he already makes consistent plays on that end. He needs more experience making reads in half-court settings — he didn't get a chance to do a ton of that with Overtime Elite, comparatively to other prospects. But his upside is enormous because of the pressure he puts on defenses.

The Fit: The Rockets end up here and get a perfect high-upside swing who would pair sublimely in the backcourt with Jalen Green. Thompson would up the competitive level of the team immediately because of his aggressive transition play and desire to be great. He plays hard and pushes the pace constantly. He fills an immediate need at the point guard position that has hampered them over the last couple of seasons with Kevin Porter Jr. running the show. Thompson might take a year to really lock in as he continues to develop as a half-court decision-maker, but this is the kind of swing that could transform Houston in a significant way long term. If he hits his ceiling, Thompson and Green have "best backcourt in the NBA" upside.

20. Dariq Whitehead, Duke

The Scout: A bet on Whitehead is a bet on the shooting upside he showcased this past season — making 42 percent from 3 — as well as the upside he'd showcased at the high school level. His tape at Duke was not that of a first-round pick. He couldn't pressure the rim and struggled within a team construct defensively. But context is important. Whitehead suffered a fifth metatarsal foot injury in the summer, which extended into the preseason and kept him out of the team's first three games in addition to missing valuable practice time. He had a follow-up surgery in May to repair the foot that apparently did not heal properly the first time. This had an enormous impact on Whitehead's season, as he looked to be nowhere near the athlete at Duke that he was in high school when he was undeniably one of the best players in his class. This is a very difficult situation to judge, and because of the medical factor, his range is quite wide.

The Fit: The Rockets got this pick in a smart trade with the LA Clippers that saw them move up 10 draft slots into the middle of the first round in exchange for Eric Gordon. That allowed them to enter a different tier of player who will be available. Under the Rafael Stone regime, they have tended to take the best player available. I would imagine that will be the case at No. 20, as the Rockets are still far enough away from competing that it's worth them just adding talent. Whitehead's shooting skill could mesh nicely on the wing with Tari Eason in bench lineups as well, and his upside is a good bet for them.

Yahoo! Sports — Krysten Peek (5/16)

4. Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite

The Rockets could be looking to move either Jalen Green or Kevin Porter Jr. for a bigger name and Thompson could be the playmaking, versatile guard they're looking for. Amen and his twin brother, Ausar, are electric athletes with a blazing first step. He's a very smart ball-handler who edges out his brother as the better visionary when he's leading the point. He's a meticulous student of the game who carries himself well on and off the court. The biggest knock on his game is his spot-up shooting, particularly from 3-point range, but with his work ethic and NBA training, many are optimistic that his shot will start to come along.

20. Maxwell Lewis, Pepperdine

Lewis improved his body and added 12 pounds of muscle since the end of his season. He shoots the ball very well and is being more active defensively during pre-draft workouts. The most underrated part of his game is his passing ability with the way he can see over the defense and zip passes with his 6-7 frame.

Bleacher Report — Jonathan Wasserman (5/16)

4. Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite

Expect the Rockets to try to move up to No. 2 for Henderson, who'd form an explosive pair with Jalen Green. But Thompson is the better passer with far more size and similarly special explosiveness.

Houston would play Thompson at point guard and surround him with shot-makers like Green and Kevin Porter Jr. The Rockets would then have arguably the NBA's most athletic starting guard/wing trio, although Thompson's playmaking and defense are what will ultimately separate him from other high-fliers.

20. Brandin Podziemski, Santa Clara

While some teams think of Podziemski as a sleeper, he might not be there for those hoping to steal him in the second round. He'd boost the NBA's No. 27 offense and worst three-point shooting team with his high-level creativity and shot-making, even if it's for the Rockets' lackluster second unit.

SB Nation — Ricky O'Donnell (5/16)

4. Brandon Miller, Alabama

There's a case to be made that Miller has the highest floor of any player in this draft after Wembanyama because of his combination of size and shooting. At 6'9, Miller showed knockdown shooting potential during his freshman season at Alabama by hitting 38.4 percent of his threes on 7.5 attempts per game, while making 86 percent of his free throws. Miller is deadly on spot-ups and can bend opposing defenses by running off screens to hit shots. His ceiling will rest on his development with the ball in his hands. Miller doesn't have a ton of burst as a driver to create separation against his man, and while his finishing got better in the second half of the season, it remains a bit of a question mark. Miller will also have to answer questions about his presence at the murder of 23-year-old Jamea Harris in January despite not being charged.

20. G.G. Jackson, South Carolina

Jackson is a huge forward with shot-creation potential who is still growing into his game as the youngest prospect in the draft. The No. 1 high school junior in the country before reclassifying late, Jackson spent his freshman year initiating the Gamecocks' offense and flashing tough shot-making skills. At 6'9, 215 pounds, Jackson is a fluid if not super explosive athlete who could be a mismatch problem at the next level as he continues to learn how to leverage his physical gifts. The issue with Jackson right now is he doesn't read the game very well — he finished the season with 86 turnovers to 27 assists — and still needs to prove himself as an off-ball player in terms of his catch-and-shoot efficiency and ability to impact the game with cuts, offensive rebounds, and hustle plays. There's some real upside here, but it's going to take a patient team who can get him to embrace a winning role.

CBS Sports — Kyle Boone (5/16)

4. Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite

Thompson is an elite playmaker who possesses the ability to make advanced reads as a potential lead guard. He profiles as someone who could be the initiator for an NBA offense, potentially setting up Houston to maximize its investments in Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr.

20. Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas

A nagging knee injury cost Smith Jr. real exposure to showcase himself on a big stage this season after carrying momentum into the season as a potential top-three pick. But the No. 1 recruit from the 2022 class, an immensely talented scorer and slasher, is still someone I think teams will be glad to bring in and develop, and in this range he'd be a no-brainer.

For the Win — Bryan Kalbrosky (5/16)

4. Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite

Amen Thompson is one of the most physically gifted and twitchy prospects in this draft class. While a bit turnover prone, he is an incredible playmaker as well.

He led all OTE players in floor general skills (FGS) among players with more than 10 games in Cerebro-certified events in the league. He made his way to the rim often and averaged 0.19 drives per touch, per AI-Powered statistics provided by Stats Perform. That is the most among all projected first-round draft picks.

20. Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Marquette

When he declared for the 2023 NBA Draft, we wrote about why Marquette's Olivier-Maxence Prosper is the perfect fit for a team looking to draft the next OG Anunoby.

Although he is still classified as testing the waters, Prosper impressed during athletic testing at the 2023 NBA Draft Combine. He ranked in the 98th percentile for standing vertical (35.0 inches) among participants since 2000, per Stadium Speak, while also finishing in the 90th percentile or better in lane agility (10.59 seconds) and max vertical (43 inches).

Prosper contributed positively to winning considering Marquette outscored opponents by 26.8 points per 100 possessions when Prosper was on the court relative to when he was not, per CBB Analytics, which ranked second-best among players at all top-tier Division I programs.

Opponents were 3-for-26 (11.5 percent) on 3-pointers when Prosper contested their jumper, per AI-Powered statistics provided by Stats Perform, which was the lowest opposing 3-point percentage among all consensus top-100 prospects who contested at least 20 shots from beyond the arc.

He was one of the leaders in drives per touch, he shot well from the corners, and he was one of only a handful of high-major players to record at least 30 dunks and 3-pointers in 2022-23.

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