Being a fan of a team in a rebuild puts a person in a puzzling position. Losses are like vegetables (at least to my palette). You know they’re good for you, but that doesn’t mean you enjoy them.
On the other hand, an angel gets its wings every time the Brooklyn Nets lose. It’s something they’ve been doing a lot of lately. Rockets fans tracking their draft position have gone from fantasizing about adding role players to running the Tankathon simulator until the team drafts Chet and Jabari.
That remains unlikely. Still, possibilities abound. I teamed up with fellow The Dream Shake staffer Zach Allen to talk about some of the players the team could target with the Brooklyn pick.
Who could the Rockets land with Brooklyn’s pick?
James: What’s good Zach? Look at us writing another joint piece. We’re becoming some sort of tag team.
First question: If we were a tag team, what would be a good name for us?
Zach: What’s good Bro! Just trying to survive this four-dollar gas in Houston, Texas. I was thinking like the Zo and Piercey show… It still needs plenty of thought, my guy!
James: So with The Nets struggling lately, some Rockets fans are having fantasies of landing two lottery picks this season. As crazy as that would be, is it realistic? How do you anticipate the rest of the season going for the Nets?
Zach: With the Nets struggling recently, there’s a chance for that pick to be a decent one. Ben Simmons won’t come back to the game of basketball for a while it seems like, which is kind of weird. But he is dealing with back problems, so those should be taken seriously at his height. With KD losing to the Miami Heat without Jimmy Butler and KD-Kyrie losing together versus the Celtics, the Nets are in serious trouble because of that commodity they are missing. KD-Kyrie have missed a ton of games together and the mandate will not be lifted by the mayor, so no surprise if their losing columns stacks up. The Nets became a possible play-in team at the right time. It becomes hilarious that the Nets gave us that pick-swap due to James Harden in return. It’s funny how the Philadelphia 76ers are so hot and the Nets are bombing themselves.
James: Give me a few of your favorite prospects that we could hypothetically land with that pick.
- Nikola Jovic
- Patrick Baldwin
- Wendell Moore Jr.
- Ochai Agbaji
- Keegan Murray
- Tari Eason
- Johnny Davis
No particular order but that’s who I like for the Rockets because they are versatile players who can score at all three levels. Nikola Jovic would be one no matter what. He could go up in the draft because of his European skill set. Playmaking, shooting, and scoring are his tools for success.
No surprise if the Rockets skip over Patrick Baldwin Jr. because of his poor season. But drafting him shows they see his upside at 6’9.
Ochai Agbaji is up for National Player of the year and Big 12 player of the year. He has had a terrific season at Kansas.
Wendell Moore Jr. has displayed the upgrades of his game, which needed improvement if he wanted to get drafted. A powerful player who knows how to finish in transition and can shoot around screens.
Johnny Davis is creative in the mid-range game and good on defense. I describe him as Demar Derozan 2.0.
Tari Eason has sixth man potential around him and is versatile because he stretches the floor with his shooting and can play defense. Good in switch situations.
Keegan Murray is tough as rocks because of the ability to score downhill and hit the open shot.
James: Interesting! I like a bunch of those names, although whether they’ll all be available is a different matter. I see Davis and Murray being off the board before the pick.
I’m just really hoping to see the team prioritize defense in the draft. I am fixated on Tari Eason. I actually think he has star potential too. His handle is surprisingly fluid and he’s got good passing instincts. He might be a jump shot away from being a featured weapon, like Kawhi coming out of college.
Defensively, he’s got a lot of fight in him. He’s fundamentally sound but he’s also relentless, I like that combination.
Eason is by far my first choice, but Jeremy Sochan on Baylor is intriguing too. I don’t think he defends with the same gusto but he’s got the fundamentals. At 6’9” and 235 pounds with good mobility, he should be a multi-positional player.
Baylor has another guy I’m intrigued by, but on the fence about in Kendall Brown. He’s probably the best run and jump athlete in the whole class, and he’s high IQ. His three-point shot just isn’t there yet, so he probably doesn’t fit what we’re trying to do. I’d still like the team to look at him.
I’m with you on Ochai Agbadi, although I am obviously favoring versatile fours, he looks like one of the best three-and-D prospects in the draft. He’d be a great choice. I do like Jovic, he’s just not exactly what I’m envisioning. I’m out on Baldwin Jr., although the kid has every opportunity to prove me wrong!
Finally, a player we won’t take as high as this pick will land who I’m very curious about is Ousmane Dieng of the New Zealand Breakers. I know he’s having a rough year in the NBL, but he’s got a great handle and passing vision for a kid that’s 6’9”/6’10”. I have a funny feeling that he’s just raw and could be a steal. I’m probably dreaming.
One thing is for sure though: with the Nets not playing well, the Rockets’ offseason outlook is getting more interesting by the minute.