Rockets fans, we are back. Back to where we were last year, but with a worse record. The Rockets “earned” the worst record in the NBA in the 21-22 season, they will pick no worse than fifth. Because teams have gamed the lottery or draft mechanism for years, the bottom three teams each have a 14 percent chance of winning the lottery - that is getting the first pick of the first round.
Last year the Rockets were lucky, and got the second pick. They might have lost the pick entirely to Oklahoma City as a result of the (still) disastrous Russell Westbrook trade. Pick protections and some ping-pong luck got the Rockets the second pick in what almost all observers considered a loaded NBA draft.
This year, there’s no such drama. The Rockets pick will fall between one and five. If you would like to read more about this process, you can look here.
Below is a silly examination of what each pick, 1-5, would entail for the Rockets using Loteria cards. (Despite having lovely vintage art, lots of modern variants, and some people telling fortunes with the cards, Loteria is basically “bingo” but with cool pictures instead of just boring numbers.)
1-1 - El Gallo
Cock-a-doodle-doo! Yes, of all the words I’ve written here at TDS, I’ve never written those.
That’s right, the Rockets are the cocks of the walk of this NBA draft. Whatever player the Rockets want in this draft is theirs. This is the best place to be, and yet, you’re still just a chicken. You may be le coq sportif, but the world of drafting is full of risks. In the words of a famous chessmaster looking at the board before the game begins: “All the mistakes are there, waiting to be made.”
Your team might get Lebron. Your team might get Andrea Bargnani or Anthony Bennett. Mostly, though, teams manage to get at least a star, or at worst, a very good starter at 1-1. This doesn’t seem like the year where a generational player is obviously waiting for the team picking first. It’s difficult to see which, if any, player in this draft might live up to the Hall of Fame billing of 1-1.
Will the Rockets be crowing tomorrow night?
1-2 El Diablito
Ah, the second pick, the little devil. The second pick is a devilish one for NBA teams, historically. It might be Kevin Durant, it might be Hasheem Thabeet. It could be Ja Morant, or it could be Darko Milicic. As Rockets fans, we are of course hopeful 1-2 pick Jalen Green falls into the former, rather than the latter group, but the odds, when you deal with the devil of the 1-2 pick, are not in your favor...
1-3 La Dama
The Lady has it all together. Look at that sweet vintage outfit, the flowers, the hat, the handbag, the hair. La Dama is confident, knows her quality, just like the number three pick in the NBA draft.
Some recent number three picks include Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Joel Embiid and James Harden. You are a lucky fan indeed if you end up with La Dama. Good things come from the number three pick, much more often than you might expect.
Yes, I know.
1-4 El Catrin
Pick number four is The Dandy, or El Catrin. We really don’t have enough dandies around in society now. We have a lot of large beards and people wearing what amounts to pajamas all the time. (Beards that even Lytton Stratchey might say were too much of a good thing. You will observe that despite the large beard, Lytton could be El Catrin today, though he was quite casual and arty, by the standards of the time.)
IS pick number four dandy though? Not like number three. You might get Chris Paul, Chris Bosh or Mike Conley. You’re probably going to get Dragan Bender, Josh Jackson or Dion Waiters. Still, the Hall of Famers have been there at number four.
1-5 El Paraguas
The umbrella. The rainy day, or the worst the Rockets can do in La Loteria. A fair number of superstars and Hall of Fame players come through at three and four. Not so many at number five. The dropoff is rather steep, in fact, from four, and especially from three.
Dwayne Wade, and Vince Carter went number four, and lately, Trae Young (could have been Luka to Atlanta!), Darius Garland and DeAaron Fox have gone at number five. So have Dante Exum, Alex Len, Mario Hezonja and Thomas Robinson.
Pick number five is the rainy day of top five picks.
Guess Where The Rockets Pick?
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