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
2019 NBA Draft prospects (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Why the Houston Rockets should keep the 23rd and 24th picks

The Rockets’ need for impact talent might not be as pressing as their need for talent in general. Last season, there was a good argument that Kelly Olynyk was the Rockets’ best player and he is a career backup and joined the team mid-season.

The Rockets endured an unprecedented amount of injuries and roster upheaval as they set an NBA record for players appearing in games. While the 23rd and 24th picks don’t usually lead to star-caliber players, the Rockets just need NBA quality players if they want to get out of the league basement.

Part of the Rockets’ issues last season were a result of them not having selected a player in the first round since the 2015 draft when they picked Sam Dekker at 18th. The lack of young talent coming in over the past half-decade made them especially vulnerable to injury.

The average age for all the players currently under contract for the Rockets next season is 27.75 years old and that figure excludes Avery Bradley who would be 31. With John Wall and Eric Gordon’s near unmovable contracts, advanced age, and injury histories the franchise needs depth if they don’t want a repeat of last season.

The Rockets currently only have two players, Kenyon Martin Jr and Kevin Porter Jr, under the age of 25 on their roster, which further highlights their need for youth. Keeping the 23rd and 24th picks, along with either a top-4 pick or the 18th pick, will give the Rockets a chance to add some much-needed youth to their roster.

While picks in the 20s hardly ever turn out to be stars, there are always exceptions. This past season, the league’s MVP, Nikola Jokic, was selected with the 41st pick, and Jarrett Allen, a player who some Rockets fans lamented not landing in the James Harden trade, was selected with the 22nd pick in 2017.

Draft picks are NBA lottery picks. Most of them don’t work out but each and every single one of them has a chance to be a superstar. It needs to be mentioned but the chances the Rockets land a superstar with a pick in the teens is almost the same as them landing one with two picks in the 20s.

The Rockets’ desperate need for high-quality and simply average players is too strong to give away a bite at the apple. The Rockets should keep the 23rd and 24th picks and see if they can’t get lucky, because their chances don’t get much better ten spots higher.

Next: The verdict

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