Ranking 4 of the best moves by Rockets GM Rafael Stone

Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers
Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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4. Drafting KJ Martin

After being one of the older teams in the NBA in 2019-20, the Rockets identified a need to get younger, preferably through the draft. However, when a team is lacking draft picks, this isn't as easy as it may seem.

The Rockets have always been good at adding talent on the margins, but they weren't necessarily looking to add players on vet minimum deals. Rafael Stone ultimately decided to take a stab at Kenyon Martin Jr. - banking on his upside and athleticism.

This was a gamble, because Martin was a project, as he decided against playing in college, and opted to play in IMG Academy instead for a year, to prepare him for the draft. The data was limited on Martin.

Not to mention that he was just 19-years-old at the time.

The Rockets ultimately dealt $1.1 million in cash and a future second-round pick to acquire the 52nd pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, which they used to select Martin. Martin outperformed the asking price on that deal rather quickly, as he's proven to be a solid young player and a legitimate rotational piece on a contending team.

Martin has even developed a decent 3-point shot, as he's made 34 percent of his triples through his first three seasons in the NBA. 

Martin enjoyed his best season in 2022-23, as he averaged 12.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 67.9 percent on 2-pointers, and 31.5 percent from three. Martin also played in all 82 games, which is rare in the load management era.

The Rockets traded Martin to the LA Clippers for two second-round picks, which is a greater package than the one they gave up for him.