How the Rockets have exposed many of the NBA's draft experts

2022 NBA Draft
2022 NBA Draft / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

If there's one thing we know about the Houston Rockets, it's that we never truly know what they have up their sleeve. This was always the case under former GM Daryl Morey and has followed with current GM Rafael Stone, who is a Morey disciple.

Whether it’s taking a stab at adding former All-Star forward Zion Williamson or essentially trading pennies on the dollar for talented-but-troubled guard/forward Kevin Porter Jr., Stone has certainly made some surprising moves over the years (and/or attempted to make them).

Stone and the Rockets have fooled many draft experts in the national media, as they’ve seemingly been unable to keep up this go-round. The Rockets had been expected to select Amen Thompson by the masses all offseason but recent reports suggest the franchise could possibly select Villanova small forward Cam Whitmore with the fourth overall pick next week (which would be a surprise).

Other draft experts have even pegged the Rockets to select Ausar Thompson, the other Thompson twin as well, making it even clearer that they essentially don’t know what the Rockets are going to do with the fourth pick.

How the Houston Rockets have exposed many of the NBA's draft experts

So even though it’s known that the Rockets need a playmaker (or at least they want one), they’re still being projected to draft Cam Whitmore and Ausar Thompson? Why is that and how does that make any sense at all?

The answer is simple. They’re allowing the Rockets’ rumored interest in a James Harden reunion to alter their own personal draft projections, even though local reporting has stated the exact opposite-that any reunion with James Harden will have no bearing on what the franchise does in the draft.

And it’s not a difficult concept to grasp. Harden, at most, would be back in the fold for four years and that’s only if he gets the full max deal that he’s seeking. But it doesn’t seem like that sort of offer is on the table for Harden, meaning he’s likely looking at a two year deal regardless of whether he stays with the Philadelphia 76ers or joins the Rockets.

With that being said, why would a short-term investment, a bridge if you will, change the team’s entire draft strategy?

Whoever the franchise selects at number four (assuming they keep the pick) would be for the future. If you’re drafting correctly, ideally the player you select in the lottery is with your franchise for at least 8 years or so.

There’s no reason to allow a short-term acquisition to affect your draft strategy. The fact that the national draft experts have been unable to piece that together is astounding, and it’s why they can’t seem to predict which player the Rockets will walk away from with the fourth pick.