By hiring Ime Udoka, the Houston Rockets signaled their intention to be a serious basketball team; By grabbing Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore in the 2023 NBA Draft, they signaled their intention to be an obscenely fun one. The undisputed winners on Thursday night (non-Spurs edition), the Rockets grabbed two of the very best players in the 2023 NBA Draft with the fourth and 20th picks, taking Thompson and then pouncing on Whitmore after a shocking draft night slide sent him hurtling out of the lottery. As such, the Rockets added even more youth and athleticism to a team that already overflowed with young, athletic players; a core of Amen Thompson, Cam Whitmore, Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun, Tari Eason and Kevin Porter Jr. would make any basketball nerd swoon. Here are our grades (spoiler: they're good) for the Rockets' pair of home run draft picks.

Amen Thompson, 4th pick: A

Thompson might already be the best athlete in the NBA. He moves in ways that defy reason. There are two parrallel tracks of athleticism in the NBA: the traditional run-and-jump variety that's tested at the combine and a more evasive stop-start kind that's predicated on flexibility between motions. Thompson is elite at both. He segments his strides and movements like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, carrying himself with a herky-jerkiness that suggests he's simultaneously moving in every direction at once, yet also can jump nearly four feet straight into the air.

Beyond being a superlative athlete, Thompson snaps the Rockets into coherence. Arguably the most creative passer in the draft, Thompson sees the world wildly and in wild ways. Paired with his ability to instantly dust any defender off the dribble, Thompson's playmaking allows him to manipulate defenses, placing help defenders at his mercy; when Thompson has the ball, defenses practically have to pre-rotate, lest he find himself at the rim before the help can fully arrive. In this sense, Thompson will easily step into a role as the Rockets' de facto point guard, enabling Green and Porter Jr. to focus on bucket-getting.

Defensively, Thompson can be a little spacey, but is still a terrifying presence away from the ball when he's engaged. Since Thompson is a basketball genius who moves around the court as if he were wearing roller blades, he has the power to essentially shut down the weakside of the floor. Against Thompson, skip passes turn into pick sixes. If a cross-court pass lacks even a tiny bit of juice, he'll swoop in for the interception and a fast break score. Alongside Eason and Smith, Thompson will form the spine of a hyperactive, turnover forcing unit. On the ball, he can heat up the ball-handler and turn sure-handed guards into jittery messes. Off the ball, he erases the kind of advantages that offenses try to manufacture—the responsibility of accounting for two players at the same time hardly phases him, considering that he can essentially teleport between them.

Cam Whitmore, 20th pick: A+

If the Rockets picked Whitmore fourth, we would've given them an A- in our accounting of draft grades. Instead, the Rockets were able to land him 16 picks later in one of the biggest heists in recent NBA Draft history, earning them one of the easiest A+'s in the in recent draft grades history. To be sure, there is probably some good reason that Whitmore fell so precipitously—his knees, allegedly, are fairly borked. But even if Whitmore's knees are as rickety as doomers believe them to be, that's a future problem. In fact, it's probably not even a problem, considering how late he went, given that he's eons and eons ahead of most guys who are picked in this range.

During his one season at Villanova, Whitmore provided the lone moments of brilliance on a largely bootless team. An overwhelmingly powerful athlete, Whitmore runs through defenses like the big bullet guy in Mario Kart. At times, he's positively Anthony Edwards-ish, bursting through the first line of the defensive shell before forcing the rotating big to make a business decision at the draft. Although his handle is pretty underdeveloped and his outside jump shot waxes and wanes like the tides, those things don't really matter when a guy can conjure dunks at will. And even if he doesn't learn to dribble, that's fine: Jaylen Brown, a similarly explosive (albeit less strong) wing, is an elite scorer despite dribbling like he's wearing oven mitts.

To wit, Whitmore is an excellent fit with the Rockets—this is the rare pick that's the perfect marriage of both fit and talent. To this point, the Rockets have built up a formidable cache of guards (Thompson, Green, Porter Jr.) and frontcourt players (Eason, Smith Jr. and Sengun), but haven't acquired a true wing to fill out their core. With Whitmore in tow, that problem has been solved with aplomb.