Ranking Houston Rockets contracts from bargain to nightmare

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Fortunate to have on a rookie deal

Tari Eason

Tari Eason has been one of Rockets GM Rafael Stone's better non-lottery draft picks, as he's a tenacious defender who also fights and scraps for every loose ball. Eason is also a hell of an offensive rebounder, ranking behind only Alperen Sengun in offensive rebounds on the team in each of the last two seasons.

Eason also provides spacing, as he made 34.3 percent of his treys this season (2.1 attempts). Eason has missed a litany of games this season, after playing all 82 games last season, and the Rockets have gone just 17-25 without him. 

Amen Thompson

Thompson has been an absolute stud on defense, drawing comparisons to Ben Simmons, who was a Defensive Player of the Year finalist in his prime. Thompson will have to work on his handle and there's doubt about his ability to be a 3-point sniper, but his defensive ability and playmaking ability should make the Rockets feel fortunate to have him on a rookie deal.

Rockets fans entered the 2023 NBA Draft with disappointment, as they knew they wouldn't be getting Victor Wembanyama, since they had the fourth overall pick. Amen Thompson fell to them instead, and he was viewed as a project, after choosing to play in the Overtime Elite as opposed to college. 

Cam Whitmore

Cam Whitmore has proven capable of being a go-to scorer in the NBA. Sure, his processing and playmaking (or lack thereof) could use some work, but he's going to be a bonafide bucket.

The Rockets should not only be happy to have him, as he shouldn't have dropped to the 20th pick, but also to have him on a rookie contract for the next three seasons guaranteed.

Jabari Smith Jr.

Jabari Smith Jr.'s 2022-23 rookie campaign started out slow, leaving many wishing that Paolo Banchero would've dropped to the third pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. However, he flipped a switch at the end of the season and carried that momentum into the Summer League, where he absolutely balled out.

This season, he's been much better on the glass (8.6 rebounds), and has been much more efficient this season (44.7 percent from the field, 35.8 percent from three, 81.3 percent from the charity stripe, compared to 40.8 percent from the field, 30.7 percent from deep, and 78.6 percent from the line as a rookie). He's limited on the defensive end, but the Rockets are lucky to have a player of his caliber on a rookie contract.