The Houston Rockets have been in search of a long-term answer at point guard ever since the franchise traded away James Harden during the 2020-21 season. The Rockets brought in John Wall the prior offseason, and although Wall played fairly well for the franchise (20.6 points and 6.9 assists in 2020-21), he was never going to be the long-term answer, due to his age and contract situation.
The Rockets experimented with Kevin Porter Jr. as the team's primary facilitator, due to his passing ability, but the long-term fit was never there, as KPJ was being asked to do something he had never done before. The Rockets eventually realized that Porter was better served on the wing in a score-first capacity, where the game was simpler for him, as he was tasked with creating offense for himself.
Porter eventually became one of the league's premier catch-and-shoot specialists, further emphasizing the Rockets' need for a pure point guard. The Rockets have been linked to the aforementioned Harden, who will be a free agent this summer after declining a $35.6 million player option, in hopes of landing a long-term deal.
How the Rockets can easily land Scoot Henderson in the draft
But the Rockets shouldn't look any further than the 2023 NBA Draft to land their long-term floor general, as Scoot Henderson of the G-League Ignite fits the bill perfectly. The 6-foot-2 Henderson has drawn comparisons to 2011 MVP Derrick Rose, an ode to Henderson's ability to finish at the rim.
Henderson's ability to get downhill creates opportunities for teammates, which should make the Rockets' brass salivate. But how can the Rockets, who hold the fourth overall pick, land Henderson, who is the prohibitive favorite to go second overall?
The Charlotte Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers are drafting second and third, and both teams have All-Star point guards in LaMelo Ball and Damian Lillard, so they figure to pass on taking Henderson. Granted, they won't make it easy for Houston by passing on Scoot altogether, but there's a precedent for a team to trade up one or two spots, based on recent draft day deals, and the asking price has oftentimes been a first-round pick.
Armed with two first-round picks in this year's draft, the simple path for the Rockets would be to deal the fourth pick, along with the 20th pick to move up to select Henderson. The Rockets could also deal the Brooklyn Nets' first-round pick in either 2024 or 2026, which they acquired in the deal that sent Harden to Brooklyn in 2021.
But with the Rockets slated to give their own 2024 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder, by way of the Russell Westbrook trade, it would seem like the franchise would prefer to part with their 20th pick in this year's draft, as moving the Nets' pick next year could leave them without a pick in the 2024 draft (unless their own pick lands in the top four).
The good news is that the Rockets have the ability to move up to get Henderson, if they should so choose.