Why Zion Williamson is worth the risk for the Rockets

2023 NBA All Star - Practice & Media Availability
2023 NBA All Star - Practice & Media Availability / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

The Houston Rockets won the newscycle on Tuesday, following NBA draft insider Rafael Barlowe's report that the franchise has interest in moving the fourth pick in the 2023 NBA Draft to acquire 2019 top overall pick Zion Williamson (subscription required). The report caught many off guard, as it was our first time hearing of any connection between the two parties. 

The Rockets are hoping to ascend into the tier of contending teams in the Western Conference, which explains the season-long James Harden rumors (although that may not be happening depending on who you ask). And although many turned their nose up at this report, the reality is the Rockets have to go after Williamson.

Sure there are the injury concerns, as Williamson has missed 194 games, as opposed to playing in just 114 games. This is certainly a problem that shouldn't be ignored.

The Rockets have shown the ability to get the most out of players with question marks in recent years, dating back to Kevin Porter Jr. Granted, it's an apples-to-oranges comparison, as Porter's issues were more mental than anything, whereas Williamson's issues have been physical, which has caused him to miss so much time on the hardwood.

In spite of those issues, Williamson still averaged 27 points, 7 rebounds, and roughly 4 assists per game in 2020-21, en route to a true shooting percentage of 64.9 percent. In 2022-23, Williamson averaged 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 4.6 assists, posting 65.2 percent true shooting.

The Rockets have been seeking a star and Williamson checks that box. The Rockets also have John Lucas in the fold, who has developed a reputation for holding players accountable off the court and/or helping them work through personal issues.

Why Zion Williamson is worth the risk for the Houston Rockets

Zion getting traded could be a wake-up call and motivate him to change his lifestyle and raise his level of play, much like Chris Paul when he got sent from Houston to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Keep in mind that Williamson is only 22-years-old and is still a force of sheer athleticism.

For the Rockets, so long as they're able to keep Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., and Alperen Sengun, they wouldn't really be giving up much of anything to land the former top overall pick. And even if they have to give up one of the three mentioned names, even that would be worth it.

The only real risk with Williamson revolves around his health and inability to remain on the floor and the Rockets would certainly have a plan in place to help remediate this prior to pulling the trigger on such a deal for the highflyer. The Rockets haven't had the opportunity to trade for a proven talent at such a young age since landing the aforementioned Harden back in 2012, and we saw how that worked out.

At the end of the day, the Rockets may likely not have enough to pull off a deal for Williamson, but they should certainly be willing to go all-in to do whatever is in their power to pull off a deal for the former Duke star.