The latest NBA mock draft was released this week by Draft Express, and they have the Rockets snagging two players from overseas with their duo of second-round choices at picks 37 and 43, so that's where our previews will start.
First up at the number 37 projection is Rade Zagorac, a 6'9" swingman out of Serbia. Zagorac's Mega Leks squad won the Serbian Cup this past season with Rade as the starting small forward. He did miss part of the year due to a broken hand, but returned in time for the team's title run.
He has good size for a SG/SF combo, but what really sets him apart is his 7'3" wingspan. As a result, he's a great rebounder for his position, averaging 6.0 per game this past year. He's also a load in transition and has a surprisingly good handle for a player his size.
His length makes him adept at jumping the passing lanes, as he averaged 1.7 steals per game. He shot 45.1 percent from the field and was smooth from the line, knocking down 83.3 percent of his free throws. He also finished this past season with a 20.3 PER and some have even called him their biggest potential draft sleeper.
My favorite sleeper prospect in the draft: 6-9 Rade Zagorac. Totally under the radar. Just 20-years-old. pic.twitter.com/A0dR60tOg1— NBADraftProspects (@draftprosnba) March 16, 2016
Where Zagorac does struggle most notably is with his shooting range. The 20-year-old only hit on 27.8 percent of his shots from beyond the arc this past season, though some have cited a mechanics issue with his deep ball that could be fixable with some quality coaching in the NBA.
He also needs to develop better upper body strength, a typical issue for the younger international players transitioning into the big leagues, and he can struggle defending faster players due to limited lateral quickness.
Like most guys in the second round, Zagorac will be drafted more for the potential of what he could turn out to be than what he is currently. But if the Rockets do end up drafting Zagorac, he would project as a future potential wing replacement for the aging Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer, though Houston likely stashes him if he's the pick.
Paul Zipser from Bayern Munich in the German league is also a swingman. The 6'8" guard/forward lacks the ceiling of Zagorac, but at age 22, may be more immediately NBA ready.
He projects as a straight three-and-D guy, showing the ability to defend multiple positions (he even played some power forward for Munich) and knocking down 42 percent of his shots from deep.
He's not as athletic as Zagorac and lacks an effective handle, but his willingness to do some of the grunt work every team needs could find him a spot on a roster despite his likely mid-second-round draft status. Zipser told Yahoo Sports earlier this year:
"I'm all about the team. Team player. Whatever the team needs: rebounding, helping out on defense, sharing the ball, playing together, that's my style. That's the best way you can play basketball. I'm also a really dangerous shooter."
With team needs at other positions, most notably point guard and power forward, it would be interesting if the Rockets snagged two swingmen with their only two picks of the draft. But with the second round being such a crap shoot, Daryl Morey undoubtedly goes best player available rather than to fulfill any specific need. These two, if it materializes, would be a decent haul.