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(More) Final reflections on the Rockets tank

It’s over. It’s just getting started.

NBA: NBA Draft
Did the Rockets get the steal of the draft in Cam Whitmore?
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

What. Just. Happened.

This one might get weird. Let’s get a little stream of consciousness here. Purple monkey dishwasher.

Sorry. I’m a little bit manic. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to have a conversation with my past self.

“Hey, past James, would you rather Amen Thompson or Cam Whitmore with the fourth pick?”

“I’d rather Amen. With that said, I’ll be cool with Whitmore, too. I’ve got him fourth on my big board. I think his explosiveness will make him a better half-court creator than Miller. He might have the highest scoring potential in this draft”.

“How about both?”

“Excuse me?”

“The Rockets are going to draft both”.

“Wow. What did they trade to move up and take Whitmore? He must have really slipped. They must have got the 10th pick from Dallas. Welcome to Houston, Davis Bertans”.


Excuse me?”

Whitmore slipped to 20th”.

Oh. So the Rockets have the highest ceiling future of any young team in the NBA.

The Rockets have an elite young core

Fine. I’m being a homer. Actually, no! Stick to your guns, James. I’m doubling down.

The Rockets have the highest ceiling future of any young team in the NBA. That’s not to say it’s the brightest future. Compared to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and probably the Orlando Magic, the floor is pretty low.

Amen Thompson still can’t shoot. Some of us may have verged on (happy) tears when the Rockets landed him instead of Brandon Miller, but that fact remains. You could pull 10 random people off the street and it may be probable that one of them has a purer shooting form than Thompson.

Cam Whitmore was a consensus top-five pick mere days ago. He slipped to 20th. There is likely a reason.

Still: Cam Whitmore was a consensus top-five pick mere days ago. This is not normal. not normal.

By my count, the Rockets have six players with at least some star upside: Amen Thompson, Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, and Cam Whitmore.

Is that normal? Let’s review:


The Rockets’ tank was a success

Rafael Stone approached this tank like it was one of those movies where the protagonist was given a terminal diagnosis and decided to do everything they’d ever wanted to do in a week.

The Rockets didn’t carefully curate a coherent lineup. It’s not assured that all of these pieces will fit together. There are several potential permutations of this team.

What he did was stockpile talent. He stockpiled it like the apocalypse was coming, and young talented basketball players were non-perishable food items.

This team may have too much talent. That’s a legitimate possibility. If all six of the aforementioned guys hit their ceilings, Stone will have to choose his favorites.

That’s the best problem anyone has ever had. The Rockets have more too. I’m still buying Usman Garuba as a vital rotation player. Kevin Porter Jr.’s future as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate has been solidified. TyTy Washington is a mystery box.

The Rockets still have Brooklyn’s picks as well. We don’t know where they’ll land. Still, considering that the Rockets have, you know, landed players with star potential in the mid-to-late first round in three consecutive years, we should be optimistic.

KJ is getting traded this summer. Let’s not delude ourselves. No room. Too much talent.

The Rockets have too much talent. Guys...

What just happened?