The Houston Rockets will have a significant impact in the first round of this year's draft. For the second straight year, the Rockets have multiple first-round picks. This year they currently have the third and 17th picks.
Plenty has been written about who the Rockets could be selected with the third pick. Even though at this point, it is primarily out of their hands, barring a trade into one of the two top spots. The 17th pick is tricky because you don't know who will be available at that point of the draft, but you at least have a general idea of who could be around. The second round is even harder to figure out, and the Rockets currently do not have a pick, which has led to zero or rarely any discussion beyond round one.
With the Rockets valuing low-risk, high-reward players, it is not outside the realm of possibilities that the Rockets could trade into this year's second round. Remember they traded into the 2020 second round when they acquired the draft rights to Martin from the Kings. So far, so good on that trade as Martin Jr. has improved every year and could have a more significant role next year.
That leads us to the present day and the possibility of the Rockets adding another pick. I asked three draft experts, Kendra Ashley of the Hoop Intellect Youtube channel (@HoopIntelllect), Mark Schindler, who is a writer for Basketball News (@MG_Schindler), and Corey Tulaba of the No Ceilings draft site (@CoreyTulaba) their opinion on this year potential second-round picks.
Even though the Rockets dont have a second-round pick as we speak, what one or two players do you see as a sleeper in the second round that we should keep our eye on?
Colorado's Jabari Walker is a pretty good bet as a defensive combo forward. I think he could compliment this roster and give them another needed presence on that end of the floor. He should be someone who gains interest from the mid second round into the undrafted market and could be a potential target.
Dalen Terry from Arizona would be a terrific piece for the Rockets if they were to acquire a second round pick. Terry is a 6'7" playmaker that boasts a 7' wingspan. He's one of the most creative passers in the class with an affinity for hitting cutters in perfect sync on their way to the rim. And above all, he has tremendous energy to lift the crowd and change games. He'd be terrific next to Jalen in the backcourt.
I really like Christian Koloko out of Arizona. He's someone I really value defensively with great mobility, potentially some switchability, but comes in fairly capable of playing a few coverages already. The offense is pretty limited, and a lot will be determined by whether or not he can work on his catching, but he's a solid roller and screener. He could become a solid rotation big fairly quickly in my opinion.
I'm also a huge fan of Jabari Walker out of Colorado. He's someone I feel has been missing at large during this cycle; the PAC-12 wasn't great outside the top teams, and Colorado was an odd context for watching Jabari.
He shows intriguing displays of ground coverage and activity as a combo big (four and five) while honing his shot over his two years at Colorado, particularly the second half of his sophomore season. He has a pretty jerky handle and funky movement skills, but I like his feel and some of the flashes of skill that have gotten more consistent at his size. I'd have a first-round grade on him comfortably right now, and I'm very excited about who he could become in the NBA in the right system.
While scouting this year's class, specifically the second round, do you see any players who can have a similar impact as players like Ayo Dosunmu and Herb Jones?
It's been tough to project who is going to land in that 30-40 range, even Ayo had a lot of late first-round interest last year. But I think a guy like Alondes Williams, out of Wake Forest, could surprise some people next season.
One of the better playmakers in the class, he can get to the bucket and is bouncier than you might expect. He’s an older player who steps in and makes an immediate impact. But I doubt we really see a defender as impactful as Herb as a rookie too many times again.
I think Wendell Moore from Duke could have an Ayo-like impact under the right circumstance. Moore isn't necessarily great at anything, but he's really good at a lot of things. It's easy to see him coming in and helping a playoff team with rotation minutes.
Oh man, that's tough. I do think the 25-45ish range has some really fun players that definitely have limitations, but also some very solid skillsets that could pop in the right circumstances.
Dalen Terry out of Arizona is someone that grew on me as the year went on and in re-watching. He's solid defensively, and in a smaller role where he's containing ball-handlers and smaller wings while being active off the ball, I love what he could bring.
His shot holds him back right now, but it's gotten better. If a team believes in developing it out and is patient enough to get the most out of his skills while he improves as a shooter, he could impact a rotation early. He has a solid handle and is a quality passer and decision-maker. Naji Marshall was a better athlete, so it's slightly different, but I'd look at him in a similar mold. Ball-handling, secondary drives, length on defense, and solid decision-making.
Final question. Looking at this year's second-round talent, do you feel this year's draft can compare top to bottom with last year's draft?
I think the 2021 class had more top-end talent by a solid margin, and it'll probably go down as one of the best classes we've seen. But when comparing the overall depth of 2022 past the lottery and into the second round, I think there are a lot of players with the potential to contribute that could rival a lot of what we saw last year.
I'd probably lean no if we're talking top to bottom. Last year's class was an all-timer. But if we're talking strictly second-round contributors, I think this class has a ton of prospects that could end up as solid NBA guys. There's definitely a chance '22 could stack up to last year's second-round guys.
I'd be surprised, personally. This last draft was so solid depth-wise. But I like the talent towards the back end of the first and early second range quite a bit, and we could certainly be surprised by some early contributors.
As you can see from our experts' responses, there is plenty of talent to be had in the second-round round. The question is will the Rockets make a move to add the third pick this year? Even if they don't, some of the players mentioned could be in the undrafted market and are worth keeping an eye on.
Thank you again to Keandre Ashley, Corey Tulaba, and Mark Schindler. Make sure to follow them, especially this time of year, as they have some of the best draft coverage around.