The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild, and this season’s record has reflected that. With a 20-56 record, tied for worst in the NBA with around six games left for most teams, the Rockets have their eyes set on a top-four pick if the odds are in their favor.
The Rockets' rebuild is off to a great start since trading away James Harden. They acquired Kevin Porter Jr. at an extremally low cost, and they had four first-round draft picks last year, drafting another guard in Jalen Green.
Gonzaga’s center, Chet Holmgren, might be the perfect next step to be the big that plays alongside the Rockets' two fine young guards. Holmgren stands at 7-feet tall with a 7-foot 6-inch wingspan, weighing in at just 195 pounds. In his freshman year at Gonzaga, he averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and blocked 3.7 shots a game, shooting 60.7% from the field.
The biggest thing that stands out about Holmgren is his height and length, which is then quickly followed up by how skinny he looks. Despite his skinny frame, Holmgren plays physically above his weight class, which can be seen on the defensive end, getting in passing lanes and blocking shots.
On offense, Holmgren also shows his toughness by finishing in the paint with ease over a defender, leading to that great field goal percentage. On top of that, he isn’t a bad floor spacer shooting 39% from three and has shown he has the shooting touch that can translate to the NBA. Even though he didn’t have massive assist numbers, a lot of that was due to the role he played for Gonzaga. He could have more chances passing out of the post to cutters in the NBA.
Even though he does play as if he had a lot more weight, it still might be an issue in the NBA. Defending more physical bigs could be an issue early on, but his length and shot-blocking ability could make up for that mismatch. Holmgren struggled to back down defenders in the post, with opposing teams putting smaller defenders on him, and could not take advantage.
If the Rockets did have the opportunity to draft Holmgren, the fit would be effortless. He would be able to play as a third creator alongside Green and Porter, even dishing out passes to them on cuts. His spacing would open driving lanes and allow Alperen Şengün to play alongside him. Holmgren would be the roaming clean-up man on defense, blocking shots leading to transition offense.
The Rockets' rebuild has so far been well planned and on target. Holmgren could be the next step in that process.