The Houston Rockets will have three first-round picks in the upcoming 2021 NBA draft. Two of those picks are already set in stone with the 23rd and 24th picks, but the Rockets’ own first-round pick will be determined by tonight’s NBA draft lottery.
The Rockets have the joint best odds, with the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic, of landing a top-four pick but by virtue of having the worst record in the league, they cannot land a pick any lower than fifth. The Rockets sent a 2021 top-four protected first-round pick swap to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the Russell Westbrook trade, which makes tonight’s draft lottery a franchise-altering night.
Regardless of whether the Rockets keep their own pick or end up with the 18th pick, via Oklahoma City via Miami, the franchise has a chance to land three top-30 prospects. The immediate future of the Rockets’ franchise rests firmly on the astuteness of their NBA draft big board.
To figure out who the best prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft are one can pour over hours of video, attend games, crunch numbers, talk to coaches, and generally devote every waking hour to understanding what makes these young men special, or one can take the people who have done that work and aggregate it into one ranking.
I call this the wisdom of the crowd NBA Draft big board. Instead of trusting one person’s judgment to guide our big board we will be taking eight experts’ opinions and turning them into one super-expert ranking of prospects.
To give credit where it is due because I’m simply standing on the shoulders of giants and calling myself tall, the draft big boards I used were nbadraft.net, tankathon.com, theringer.com, cbssports.com, espn.com, sportingnews.com, nba.com, and nbadraftroom.com. While there is some level of consensus in these big boards, what you’ll see is that after the first few prospects opinions begin to differ.
Not every big board was the same length so only players that were listed as a top-30 prospect (first-round quality) on at least one of these lists were included. Using this method 37 prospects emerged to give us the top-37 players in the 2021 NBA draft. Each player’s average ranking and the range of their rankings are also included to show when prospect quality is viewed to fall off. Now, on to the top five.