Houston Rockets: Ranking history's recent third-overall picks

Could the Houston Rockets land someone like Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick?
Could the Houston Rockets land someone like Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick? / Alex Bierens de Haan/GettyImages
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The Houston Rockets have the third overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

For some fans, landing third is a disappointment. Sure, it's a good pick, but wouldn't it be sweet to get one of the first two bites at the apple?

...You sure about that?

Let's review the recently concluded NBA Finals. Luka Doncic led the Mavericks. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown fueled the Celtics. What do each of those players have in common?

They were all picked third in the NBA draft.

Here, we'll rank every third pick from 2015 to 2020. Is that timeframe arbitrary? We'll let you decide.

We didn't want to include the last three third-overall picks. Evan Mobley, Jabari Smith Jr., and Scoot Henderson are still marinating. A player becomes extension eligible in their fourth year, so that felt like a meaningful cut-off.

With that established, we'll also note that our criteria here is loose. We looked up the Box Plus/Minus (BPM) for each of these players, and that nearly made for a tidy list. Still, we made a couple of judgment calls where we felt the stat didn't perfectly encapsulate a player.

Without further ado...

6. Jahlil Okafor, 2015

Spoiler alert: Okafor is the only bonafide bust on this list.

In all fairness, 2015 was a different time. Big men who primarily scored with their back to the basket hadn't fallen so out of fashion. Okafor still resembled a potential offensive star in the NBA.

His best season was his rookie year. Okafor averaged 17.5 points while shooting 50.8% from the field. In his sophomore year, his offensive production slipped to 11.8 points per game.

The Sixers would send him to the Brooklyn Nets in his third season. His production never recovered. In the end, Okafor's struggles in protecting the rim kept him off of NBA floors. As the center position began to slant toward defense, he couldn't keep up.

That makes him the worst third-overall pick in recent history.