Drafted Jabari Smith Jr. 3rd overall, drafted Tari Eason 17th overall, drafted TyTy Washington 29th overall
The success of the Rockets’ rebuild will come down to the draft, and their past two drafts have set them on the right track. The 2022 draft saw the Rockets make three selections in the first round, and they managed to land players that filled an immediate need and the best player available. Sometimes the stars align, and the Rockets, true to their celestial destiny, made good on their fortune.
Jabari Smith Jr, up until the day of the draft, was considered to be the odds-on favorite to go first overall. His slipping to third may have cost the Rockets a chance at Paolo Banchero, but he remains an excellent prospect who projects to be a better two-way player than Banchero.
Tari Eason was an analytical darling, and with good reason. He combined elite NBA measurables with elite collegiate production. The Rockets grabbing him at 17 was a no-brainer, and there’s a chance that in five years, a dozen teams will be kicking themselves for passing on him. However, even if his offensive game never develops to the point where he’s a second or third option on offense, his defense should make him a valuable player.
TyTy Washington being available at 29th was likely a surprise to both Washington and the Rockets. As a freshman in the highly competitive South Eastern Conference, Washington looked destined to be a near lottery pick before he suffered an ankle injury on February 12th.
In 23 games before his injury, he averaged 12.9 points and 4 assists per game, on 53.9% shooting on 2-pointers and 35.2% on 3-pointers as Kentucky went 19-4. In the eight games after, his averages dropped to 11.4 points and 3.4 assists, on 35.2% 2-point shooting and 34.4% 3-point shooting as the Wildcats limped to a 4-4 record and a first-round exit in the NCAA tournament.
TyTy has a chance to be one of the best backup point guards in the league and has a real chance to develop into an excellent starter. Landing a player with a high likelihood of being a meaningful contributor with the 29th pick is excellent value. If he grows into anything more, there will be a whole host of teams ruing their decision to let him slide.
The Rockets draft was excellent. They landed three high-floor prospects who also have high ceilings. It’s hard to do much better than that.