3rd overall pick in 2022 NBA Draft: Rockets select Jaden Ivey
Actual pick: Jabari Smith Jr.
This was the most difficult decision because it is just too early to determine anything about the 2022 draft class. Most of the top players have not even turned 21 years old yet. Players like Heat star Jimmy Butler were not even in the league until they were 22, and he did not become a starter until his third season. After two years, Butler would have looked like a bust, but the six-time All-Star has certainly proved that wrong.
There was also the dilemma of the best player available versus fit. The Rockets could not take Paolo Banchero or Chet Holmgren, but who was the next best player? Bennedict Mathurin had the highest scoring average. Jalen Williams finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting as Keegan Murray helped the Kings become the third seed in the Western Conference. All of those players are forwards and wings, and the Rockets cleaned up on those with their four picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, and they have their starting center of the present and future still to select here.
Jaden Ivey finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting, but he has the look for a future star point guard (subscription required). His blazing speed is unteachable, and after the All-Star break, he averaged 19.3 points, 7.1 assists, and 3.7 rebounds in 34.3 minutes per game while shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range and over 81 percent on his free throws.
The Rockets take Jaden Ivey to be their lead ball-handler and playmaker over Jabari Smith Jr. and the rest of the talented rookie class available at pick three.