How a disappointing lottery outcome could still be a positive for the Rockets

2022 NBA Draft
2022 NBA Draft / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

A recent report suggested (subscription required) that the Houston Rockets could possibly be looking to trade their draft pick if it falls out of the top three. This logic would make sense, as the top players in this year's draft are in a class of their own, with Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson, and Brandon Miller expected to be selected with the first three picks.

But a team should never have the "top-three or bust" mentality in any draft, because there are always gems that don't get the limelight or attention as the big name prospects, for one reason or another. Case in point, Amen Thompson, the 6-foot-7 guard who just turned 20-years-old in January.

Thompson possesses a skillset that we all know is a need for the Rockets, as the franchise is in dire need of a point guard. And Thompson's passing ability is uncanny, and that might be an understatement.

If you're a fan of the sport, you'd salivate at some of the passes Thompson is capable of making. Picture Patrick Mahomes on the basketball court, hitting teammates in stride, and that gives you an idea.

How a disappointing lottery outcome could still be a positive for the Rockets

Whether it's throwing lobs in transition or squeezing the ball in tight spaces or even hitting shooters on the move, Thompson can do it all. Thompson is also a pick-and-roll maestro, which will obviously correlate to the next level. 

Thompson has been heralded as a bigger John Wall, and if you're landing a potential All-NBA point guard with the fourth pick,'ve essentially won the lottery.

And with a 6-foot-7 frame, it's understandable why he'd draw such a comparison. This size allows him to tower over not only point guards but essentially any guard at the next level, in addition to allowing him to find open teammates.

And his explosiveness and athleticism is Ja Morant-esque. His first step will blow you away, which makes it quite impossible to prevent him from getting to the cup. And once he gets to the rim, his 44-inch vertical allows him to make spectacular finishes.

Now imagine adding a 6'9 wingspan to the fray, which Thompson often uses to provide weakside protection on the defensive end. Thompson averaged 16 points, roughly 6 assists and 6 rebounds during his lone season in the Overtime Elite league, and although the level of competition was certainly not immense, his ability to contribute in many different ways will correlate at even the NBA level.

Thompson's biggest weakness is his shooting, or lack thereof, particularly from deep. The crafty point guard made just 23 percent of his triples in the Overtime Elite. This will surely have to improve and there's evidence that suggests that it can.

For instance, LeBron James entered the league with an inability to shoot from deep (29 percent from 3-point land as a rookie). By James' second season in the league, he was shooting 35 percent from deep, which is above league average. By James' 10th season in the league, he was shooting over 40 percent from deep, which is considered stellar.

There are other examples. The aforementioned Wall entered the league unable to shoot (29.6 percent as a rookie) and made 35.1 percent of his treys in his fourth season. Thompson surely won't morph into Damian Lillard or Steph Curry from long-range but he doesn't need to become a marksman from deep, he simply needs to develop a formidable shot, a la LeBron.

The Rockets will find out their fate in due time, as the NBA Draft lottery is on May 16th. But if they happen to stumble upon the fourth pick in the draft, they'd be wise to keep it and select Amen Thompson.