Planning Out the 2024 NBA Draft for the Houston Rockets

June 12th, 2024

by Alan Lu

The Houston Rockets had a relatively successful season, even if they didn’t make the playoffs. They have depth at almost every position, and they managed to win far more games this year under head coach Ime Udoka than anyone ever imagined. Udoka has been exponentially better than their previous head coach Stephen Silas, the guy who lost a bunch of games and publicly singled out and criticized his best player for his defensive effort in a game where the whole team didn’t defend well. In the meantime, Udoka helped get the Rockets to a .500 record, and while that wasn’t enough to get them to the postseason, it’s clear that Udoka is a proven coach that steer Houston to the right path to get back to their winning ways.

Alperen Sengun and Fred VanVleet led the Houston Rockets to a fairly solid season, even if they fell short of the playoffs this year. (Photo: Gerald Herbert/Associated Press, via Houston Chronicle)

The Rockets are a good defensive team that has some good young players in Alperen Sengun, Jalen Green, Jabari Smith, Cam Whitmore, and Amen Thompson, and they also have a solid mix of veterans such as Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks. They have a surplus of young wings and they also have an initiator that can run the offense. If anything, maybe they could use another big man to fortify the paint, one that could also either keep Sengun fresh or play alongside him.

In analyzing their moves, if they need a center, Alex Sarr and Donovan Clingan would be reasonable candidates with the third pick in the draft.

Alex Sarr is a tremendously athletic big man that can lock down the paint, and has shown a stretch component that could prove to be promising if he can be a more reliable shooter from long distances. Donovan Clingan is a very tall and springy center that also can lock down the paint, and he’s a polished center that could play well right away. Both players have their flaws offensively, but of the two, Alex Sarr may be the pick because of his high upside and two way potential, especially if he is on the board.

If he’s not on the board, the Rockets could either use a shooter that can play off the ball, or they still could use a center to help fortify the paint. Or, they also could use a younger point guard that could help grow with their young team, one that can learn behind Fred VanVleet.

With this Dalton Knecht enters the conversation, as he is a skilled sharpshooter that has better athleticism than advertised, but his advanced age may mean he may be close to being topped out. Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard are point guards that have a good feel for the game, with Dillingham being more athletic, and Sheppard is a pure shooter that is also a high-motor player that consistently gives great effort defensively. Ja’Kobe Walter is an athletic shooter that can score the basketball, but his questionable defensive skills and lack of elite playmaking skills may make this too high of a spot for him.

Matas Buzelis is an enticing versatile forward that has solid two-way skills, but his shot selection can be spotty at times, and while Cody Williams and Ron Holland would be enticing, they have questionable jump shots, which could make that not a great fit for Houston.

So, assuming Alex Sarr would be off the board at 3, a logical pick would be if Houston were to take Reed Sheppard.

Reed Sheppard is a smart, skilled point guard that is a very good shooter, is a solid facilitator, and he is a tenacious defender that will pester opponents with his ball pressure and ball hawk abilities. He’s a better athlete than advertised, and his strong offensive skills would greatly complement Sengun.

At 44, they could look to draft a center if they didn’t opt to select one at 3. They also could opt to add more shooting to their squad.

So here is what I did for the Rockets in the ESPN’s 2024 NBA Mock Draft Simulator:

A mock draft board for the Houston Rockets.   Image courtesy of Fanspo.
A mock draft board for the Houston Rockets. Image courtesy of ESPN Analytics.

Reed Sheppard is a skilled combo guard that can flat out shoot the basketball, is a solid facilitator, and could potentially add a movement shooting component to help space the floor and could complement Sengun’s game well. Then, in the second round, Cameron Christie is an athletic swingman that would project well into a 3 and D role to help fill that role well off the bench. The 2024 NBA Draft will be held on June 26 and 27, so that will be exciting. Thanks for reading.

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