Grade the Pick: Rockets select sharpshooter Reed Sheppard at 3

Reed Sheppard is the newest member of the Houston Rockets
Reed Sheppard is the newest member of the Houston Rockets / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Do you believe in analytics?

It's a contentious issue for NBA fans. Some people swear by advanced stats. Others will maintain that they ruin the way we view basketball.

The truth is likely somewhere in between. Analytics are one of many tools in the box. You need to watch basketball to understand it, but analytics help contextualize what you're watching.

The Houston Rockets have long understood this. Analytics have driven the organization's decision-making for some time. Last night, they demonstrated that understanding again:

The analytics love Reed Sheppard.

Did the Houston Rockets score the best in class?

Take Kevin Pelton's legendary Wins Over Replacement Player (WARP) - Sheppard's mark of 3.7 ties Donovan Clingan for the best in this class.

Prefer more conventional numbers? Sheppard's Box Plus/Minus (BPM) of 11.4 from last year's season with the Kentucky Wildcats is in rarified air. All the numbers suggest that Sheppard can be a star player in the NBA.

Is that a fair expectation for him?

Houston Rockets need to give Sheppard an opportunity

Here's where the eye test comes into play.

Sheppard is excellent. His three-point gravity warps defenses. Still, there are reasons to question his status as a future NBA star.

Specifically, his height could be an issue. Sheppard is a small guard. He's not without defensive value - at 2.5 steals per game, he flashed quick hands and strong instincts in passing lanes. Still, Sheppard may be exploitable at the point of attack.

On the other hand, Fred VanVleet will be right there to mentor him. Steph Curry, Jalen Brunson, and Donovan Mitchell exist. We're not saying Sheppard will get to that level, but there is a precedent for small guards reaching NBA stardom in the modern era.

Perhaps we're asking the wrong questions. Sheppard doesn't need to become a superstar to be the right pick here. The Rockets badly needed shooting, they added the best shooter in the class, and he happens to be an analytics darling

That sounds like a great pick: depending on whether that has any value to you.

Grade: A+