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2023 NBA Draft: Here’s who the Rockets drafted in the SB Nation site manager’s mock draft

Here’s who I took this year.

Basketball: Overtime Elite-Cold Hearts at City Reapers Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We’re back with this year’s SB Nation site manager’s mock draft. After not drafting in this thing for a while, my last few years have been filled with a plethora of picks, and I have two more coming this year in the first round for the Houston Rockets.

Pick #4 - Amen Thompson - 6’7” point guard - Overtime Elite

Basketball: Overtime Elite-Cold Hearts at City Reapers Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Let me start off by saying that there are no trades in the site manager’s mock. If there were, I’d be looking to move this pick expeditiously. My first thought is for the Rockets to trade back. There are tons of question marks on all these players past the first two, and I’m not overly enthused about any of them near the top following Victor Wembenyama and Scoot Henderson.

If I were Rafael Stone, I’d look to do one of several things involving trading. The first being to trade back several slots, pick up some extra capital and look to select Jarace Walker from Houston to help firm up the defense. Walker at four is a little too high, and Stone would be doing himself a disservice if he didn’t maximize the pick by trading back if Walker is his target.

Another option is to trade out of the top of this draft entirely, which I am also not opposed to. A third option would be to trade up in the draft for Scoot, though I’m not sure if the Rockets will be willing to give what it takes.

But for our purposes, we’re giving it a go with Thompson, who is the most likely selection for the Rockets in the media’s eyes and the player with the highest upside left in the draft. Thompson is an elite athlete with a broken jump shot. For a team already with issues connecting from range, this isn’t ideal.

If the Rockets think the jump shot can be fixed, then so be it, but it’s ugly. He hit just 25 percent of his triples this past season against sub-par competition, and it’s possible it never comes together, making him a massive question mark as potentially another Ben Simmons.

But his height, length, frame, athleticism and other physical gifts make him an intriguing prospect for anyone who feels they can work with that jumper. Is that team the Rockets? I’m not so sure, but if his shot comes together, Thompson has as high of a ceiling as anyone in the draft not named Wembenyama, and that’s why I am (and likely the Rockets too) gambling on him here despite my reservations.

Pick #20 - Leonard Miller - 6’10” power forward - G-League Ignite

NBA: Combine David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

James filled you in on this pick a few days ago and did an interview with more info about Miller than I could possibly have, but he’s another phenomenal athlete. He’s one of the top rebounders in this draft class — maybe the top — and can run the floor with the best of them. He’s far from dynamite from deep, but his 32.7 percent in the G-League suggest that there is potential there for the 19-year-old to improve his range.

But his strengths on offense beyond his athleticism are that he can handle the ball, is an adept passer and makes his living as a finisher.

On defense, he can guard three through five and has the versatlity to thrive in the modern NBA. He needs better discipline on that side of the ball, but that should come with age, and there has been talk of Miller going much higher than this, so he was an easy pick to make, especially with the Rockets needing size. I also considered Jordan Hawkins, Brice Sensabaugh and James Nnaji here, but Miller is my guy.


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