The Houston Rockets may have moved down in the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery to the third overall pick. However, they still will be able to walk away with one of the top three prospects: Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith Jr.
The downside to picking third is that the Rockets don't get to choose which of those three they get. Right now, the likely order seems like Smith to the Orlando Magic at first overall and Holmgren will be selected next by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Banchero would certainly be a strong addition that could be a strong scoring tandem with Jalen Green.
However, if the Rockets get the chance to take Holmgren, they should jump at the chance. Houston is open to trading the third overall pick, which is smart, but they should slam the door shut on all possible trades if Holmgren is available.
Even though the Gonzaga seven-footer's skinny frame may cause some concern about his durability at the professional level, his basketball skill will not. He is a terrific player and the perfect pick at number three overall.
3 reasons Chet Holmgren would be perfect pick for Rockets at No. 3 in 2022 NBA Draft
3. Fit with Jalen Green
The Rockets just saw a terrific season from Green, who was one of two rookies to average 17 points per game (along with Cade Cunningham). Houston needs to find another future star for him to develop with. What would the ideal running mate for him look like?
Because Green is so athletic and has 3-point shooting potential, it would be wise to get him someone who can throw him lobs and find him in open spots. Holmgren would give the Rockets another big man who can make plays for him. He and Alperen Sengun can do just that in tandem.
Green can, of course, handle the ball himself, so it would behoove Houston to find someone that he can throw lobs to. Holmgren's 7-foot-6 wingspan and shooting touch around the hoop make him a great target. Oh, and he can shoot the three. He converted 39.0 percent from deep on 3.3 attempts per game. The Rockets can mix it up and throw pick-and-pops in there, too.
Chet Holmgren has been dominating in his last 5 games 🔥
— SLAM University (@slam_university) February 6, 2022
Pairing Holmgren with Green would give the Rockets a great one-two punch. Green can blossom into an offensive superstar. Defense, though, may be lacking. Holmgren can support him, and the team as a whole, in that area as well.
2. Possible defensive cornerstone
If Holmgren doesn't become the cornerstone of the Rockets' defense, he will be the next best thing. Like last year's number three overall pick, Evan Mobley, he is a tall, nimble, smart defender that overcomes his slender frames by contesting every shot in his area code.
Although Holmgren and Mobley are not one-to-one comparisons, the Gonzaga star showcases an impressive blend of versatility and rim protection. He swatted 3.7 blocks and tallied 0.8 steals per game in 26.9 minutes of action in his lone season at Gonzaga. The Rockets were bad at everything last season but were especially bad on defense. One reason they were so bad was that they allowed the highest shooting percentage on shots within five feet.
Much as everyone talks about offense the Rockets biggest issue is rim protection and defense overall. The more I talk to draft people who live and breath the draft and looking at this current team Holmgren defense is sorely needed pic.twitter.com/5gvGTjikPz
— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) January 29, 2022
Holmgren will gave to adjust to bigger players and prove he can still move his feet well against better offenses. Still, he has the potential to be the best defensive player in this year's draft and can become the linchpin of the Rockets' defense, especially as the team around him improves.
1. Sky-high potential
Holmgren is one of the three best players in this year's draft with a very strong possibility of being the best. That's enough of a reason for the Rockets to snag him with the third pick.
On top of the tremendous defense, he has amazing versatility on offense. The shooting abilities in someone that size is rare. Although Holmgren may not be a strong bucket-getter in the halfcourt, he can do everything else reliably. Houston just needs a great player and the lanky Gonzaga Swiss-army knife is just that.
The Rockets would be well on their way to improving next season and in the future with such a well-rounded big man to build around.