Should the Houston Rockets trade up in the draft?

General Manager Neil Olshey of the Portland Trail Blazers speaks with General Manager Rafael Stone of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
General Manager Neil Olshey of the Portland Trail Blazers speaks with General Manager Rafael Stone of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
Mikal Bridges and Trae Young (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Why the Houston Rockets should trade up in the draft

The Rockets need more impact talent and the chances of landing an impact player with the 23rd or 24th picks are incredibly low. Both the Wizards and Warriors could be interested in adding more picks as they both already have multiple star players on their roster and don’t own all of their future first-round picks.

The Wizards owe the Rockets a lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick and the Warriors owe the Grizzlies a lightly protected 2023 first-round pick. However, the Warriors should be the most receptive to flipping the 14th pick for the 23rd and 24th picks between those two teams.

The first reason is that they own the Minnesota Timberwolves 2021 first-round pick. Although it is top-3 protected this year, it becomes unprotected next season, which means the Warriors have a highly valuable first-round pick coming in this draft or next.

The second reason is that their salary cap space situation is dire. The Warriors have $168.1 million in salary commitments for next season and $115.4 million for 2022-23 and that doesn’t include a Stephen Curry extension.

The Warriors are going to need bodies at a low cost if they’re going to build one final contender around their incredibly expensive core of Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson, and the 23rd and 24th picks offer them that opportunity. When you combine that with the fact that they have a top pick coming their way this draft or next and it starts making all the sense in the world.

The Rockets after losing the most games in the league aren’t suddenly going to turn it around because they landed two future bench players. Bench depth is important, but for a rebuilding team, it is the last step in the process, not the first.

The 14th pick is the final pick of the draft lottery and represents a great place for the Rockets’ to pick. First, the chances that the player is at least a productive NBA player are very high, and second, the chances the player is an All-Star, while not high, are not out of the realm of possibility.

Bam Adebayo was selected there in 2017 and so was Clyde Drexler in 1983. While that represents the high end, the 14th pick has produced a career win shares total of 23. Pairing a solid NBA starter with a top-four pick would represent a great way for the Rockets to kick off their rebuild.

Next: Why the Rockets should keep their picks

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