The Houston Rockets need to have a successful 2023 NBA Draft. They have multiple first-round picks and can help speed up their rebuild by selecting wisely. Houston is looking to draft a star with the No. 4 overall pick. They are also trying to find an impact player with the No. 20 overall selection.
There will still be potential stars remaining in the middle of the first round, but many of these players will have uncertainty. That said, let's take a look at three sneaky players the Rockets can select with the No. 20 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Dereck Lively II, Duke
Dereck Lively II may not even be available by the No. 20 overall pick. If he hasn't been selected though, Houston should take a chance on him.
Lively II stands 7'1 and would provide the Rockets with a talented big man on the roster. Houston needs to upgrade on the wings and in the post, so Lively II profiles as a strong fit from a roster standpoint.
As a player in general, Lively II features an exciting ceiling. He's primarily known for his impressive defensive prowess and athletic ability. Lively II still needs to further develop his offensive game, but the Rockets would immediately improve their defense by selecting him.
Even if Lively II fails to improve his offensive skillset, he will be a reliable defensive option for Houston. If he is able to become a capable offensive player though, Lively II could become a true star.
Dariq Whitehead, Duke
Speaking of Duke players, Dariq Whitehead also would make sense for the Rockets.
There aren't many draft evaluators who doubt Whitehead's ability. He's a shooting guard/small forward who's previously flashed signs of stardom. The question is health.
He dealt with injuries in college which will lead to some teams passing on him. Whitehead recently underwent his second foot surgery, per the Miami Herald. His upside makes him worth the risk though. If the Rockets draft Amen Thompson with the No. 4 overall pick in the NBA Draft, taking the risk on Whitehead would make even more sense.
The reason Whitehead is still an intriguing prospect is due to his offensive versatility. Not only is he a tremendous athlete who can finish at the rim, but he's also a solid outside shooter. Additionally, he's a capable playmaker as well. He can become an offensive star as long as injuries don't plague him in the NBA.
Brandin Podziemski, Santa Clara
Podziemski is a talented guard who has been undervalued at times. He is expected to be a first-round selection, but draft evaluators are undecided on where he should fall in the first round.
The Rockets could take a chance on him with the No. 20 overall pick. He's a tremendous shooter who can find the bottom of the net from beyond the three-point line or from the mid-range. However, he's more than just a shooter.
Podziemski also displayed defensive prowess. He's still developing his all-around defensive game, but his aggressiveness led to a number of steals this past season.
Podziemski isn't receiving much attention after playing for Santa Clara, but he certainly qualifies as a sneaky NBA Draft pick for the Rockets.
Houston would benefit from selecting any three of these players at No. 20 overall. It will be interesting to see how they end up approaching the 2023 NBA Draft.