5 Draft pick trades Rockets could make to finally take a huge leap

Houston Rockets, Jabari Smith Jr., Jalen Green
Houston Rockets, Jabari Smith Jr., Jalen Green / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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The Houston Rockets have missed the playoffs three straight years, and they have won just 59 games during that stretch. It has been rough since trading James Harden to the Nets, and Houston is eager to get back into contention under new head coach Ime Udoka. 

The rumors of James Harden’s return are just starting to heat up, and the Rockets fell to the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery. Houston has a mountain of cap space this summer to improve. Could they turn it into Harden and a co-star to jump back into contention?

Do not be surprised to see Houston try to pull off a blockbuster this offseason, but who could be available?

Houston Rockets draft pick trades that could help them make a massive leap

5. Deandre Ayton

Is new head coach Ime Udoka sold on Alperen Sengun being the team’s starting center? He had Robert Williams in Boston, and despite his recent complementary comments about the 20-year-old, he could look to add a more traditional big man to the roster.

Ayton appears to be on his way out in Phoenix, and the former number-one overall pick has untapped potential.

Adding James Harden and Ayton to their young core of Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., and Tari Eason with Kevin Porter Jr. sliding into a sixth-man role could be the start of a contending team. The Rockets would have to add some wing defense in free agency or via trade, but they could quickly leap back into the playoff mix.

Udoka is going to be honest with his players, and he could be the coach that gets the best out of Ayton. There was plenty of lackluster play from the 6’11 big man this season, and he still managed to average 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in 30.6 minutes per game. Imagine getting the 24-year-old to play to his potential on both ends of the floor.

The Suns desperately need depth. They could move the first-round pick for an additional asset as they look to build around Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. Phoenix also gets a replacement big man in Sengun and Jae’Sean Tate to improve their wing defense.

If the Suns are serious about trading Deandre Ayton this summer, this could be the best offer on the table, and the Rockets would welcome the former number-one overall pick onto their talented roster.