Houston Rockets: 5 NBA draft prospects worth trading up for

James Piercey
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 18: Jalen Green #4 of the G League Ignite brings the ball up the floor during a G-League game against the Westchester Knicks at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on February 18, 2021 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 18: Jalen Green #4 of the G League Ignite brings the ball up the floor during a G-League game against the Westchester Knicks at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on February 18, 2021 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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Houston Rockets, NBA Draft
Jalen Johnson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Houston Rockets: NBA draft prospect to trade up for Jalen Johnson

Forward, Duke/ Projected: 15th, High: 6th, Low: 35th

Mock drafts project Johnson’s draft position with alarming variance. It isn’t hard to find a mock draft that lands him anywhere from the 8th pick to somewhere in the late teens. A lot of reservations about Johnson seem to focus on his character: he left Duke after a mere 13 games, allegedly clashing with Coach K.

On a related note: The Rockets seem to have a knack for working with young players with so-called character concerns. However, there are less questions about Johnson’s game.

37 best prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft. Related Story

He is a 6’9 point forward with a tantalizing combination of size, speed, ball-handling, and passing chops. Johnson is a terror in the open floor, makes strong cuts, and can potentially handle either end of a pick and roll in half-court sets.

He projects as a versatile defender who can check wings and bigs alike. His jumper is still a work in progress, although he did nail 44-percent of his 3-point attempts at Duke, albeit in limited volume and number of games.

Even if he never develops into a sharpshooter, his willingness to fire with enough frequency to keep defenses honest could take him a long way in the NBA. If he does develop a consistent 3-pointer, the word “ceiling” may no longer apply to his potential. In the earliest stages of a rebuild, the Rockets cannot afford to let that much potential slip by them if they have the opportunity to select Johnson.

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