The pre-draft process was a tumultuous one for Kentucky guard TyTy Washington Jr. He started the process as a late lottery pick, transitioned into a top-20 pick and heading into Thursday’s 2022 NBA draft with widely varying judgments of where he would get taken.
Many mock drafts had Washington projected to Houston with its second of three first-round picks (No. 17). However, Houston selected LSU forward Tari Eason with that mid-round selection.
In the end, the Rockets landed Washington. However, it came at a much friendlier price. Rockets general manager Rafael Stone selected Washington at No. 29 after trading the No. 26 pick to Minnesota (as an expansion of the Christian Wood trade involving Dallas). In return for moving down three spots, Houston netted two second-round picks. The No. 26 pick, which Minnesota used on Duke guard Wendell Moore, was originally acquired from Dallas in the original Wood trade.
The years and terms of those two second-round picks were not immediately announced.
Washington, a Kentucky guard, averaged 12.5 points and 4 assists per game off 45% shooting on his way to second-team All-SEC honors and the SEC All-Freshman first team. This came after a recruiting process in which he was ranked as a five-star point guard out of high school and universally regarded as a top-20 national recruit.
In the NBA, Washington projects as a guard capable of playing either the point or shooting guard position. Better yet, he was a willing defender during his time with the Wildcats.
Washington showed elements of strong decision making at Kentucky, along with the ability to score by both attacking the lane and shooting from the perimeter. His frame, 6-foot-3 and 197 pounds, is thin, but he should benefit from committing full-time to basketball at the NBA level.
Overall, this pick should be considered a coup for the Houston front office. They acquired a talented player at a draft spot many thought was far too low for Washington just two months ago. It will be up to head coach Stephen Silas to work him into the rotation with budding star Jalen Green and counterpart Kevin Porter Jr. in the backcourt.