With the No. 3 pick in the 2022 first round, the Houston Rockets are widely expected to draft whichever of the consensus top-three prospects — Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, and Duke’s Paolo Banchero — is still on the board. All are frontcourt players.
Yet, it remains unclear which of the three will actually be available to Rockets general manager Rafael Stone. There’s also a remote scenario where Oklahoma City selects Jaden Ivey at pick No. 2, which could leave Houston with a choice between two of those three frontcourt options.
Assuming the Rockets keep the pick, the chosen player will immediately join Jalen Green as the foundational pieces of Houston’s rebuild.
Now that it’s draft week, rumors will fly leading up to the actual draft selections on Thursday night, June 23. Some reports in the final days will be credible, while others could be misinformation to suit a certain team or prospect’s agenda. With that in mind, rather than write individual stories for each and every rumor, what we’re going to do each day at RocketsWire is sort all the tidbits involving each of the top three teams.
From there, it could be easier to determine where the true momentum or trend is. As of midday Monday, here’s the latest reports when it comes to the Magic (No. 1), Thunder (No. 2), and Rockets (No. 3), as well as what it could mean when it comes to Houston’s ultimate pick.
Orlando Magic, No. 1 overall
Oklahoma City Thunder, No. 2 overall
Houston Rockets, No. 3 overall
With the draft days away, the signals are pointing stronger and stronger at Duke’s Paolo Banchero being selected by the Rockets, should he be on the board at No. 3, sources told The Athletic. On a related note, while Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren is expected by some to be taken at No. 2 by the Thunder, it’s no absolute guarantee. There have been whispers of interest in Purdue’s Jaden Ivey.
There was an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from Banchero’s visit (to Houston), akin to the one from Jalen Green at a similar stage last year. The Rockets are rebuilding their culture and seeking team-first, hardworking players. By all accounts, Banchero fits that bill.