With the 2023 NBA draft under a year away, the Rockets currently own two first-round selections. They will have the higher of two picks between Houston and Brooklyn, thanks to a swap right obtained from the January 2021 James Harden trade, and a Milwaukee pick obtained via a combination of the Harden deal and a subsequent PJ Tucker trade.
As of now, Houston is not slated to have a 2023 second-round choice.
With that in mind, For The Win’s NBA draft guru Bryan Kalbrosky recently took his first crack at delivering a 2023 mock draft. While the ordering is undoubtedly subject to change based on production from the ensuing 2022-23 seasons, this is a good look at where things stand going in — along with who Rockets fans may want to keep an eye on during upcoming college basketball and international campaigns.
Scroll on for Kalbrosky’s early outlook on the Rockets and the 2023 draft class, both for their own pick and the one from Milwaukee.
My first 2023 NBA Mock Draft is now live! Some fits I like …
Thunder: Victor Wembanyama
Pacers: Scoot Henderson
Magic: Amen Thompson
Knicks: Kel'el Ware
Pelicans: Anthony Black
Lakers: Amari Bailey
Heat: Jett Howard
Projecting both rounds:https://t.co/8y9vNlMM5Y
— Bryan Kalbrosky (@BryanKalbrosky) July 22, 2022
Kalbrosky: Our order was determined based on reversed odds to win the 2023 NBA Finals. The teams outside the top 8 in each conference were considered lottery squads. Trades were pulled from this database at RealGM.
We have some help from our friends at Cerebro Sports to help provide stats on the top high school and international prospects. Let those numbers guide the insights about each player.
No. 5, Houston Rockets (own pick): Ausar Thompson
Elite, Overtime, 6-6
Stats per 40 minutes via Cerebro (2021-22 Overtime Elite):
22.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.9 3-pointers made, 2.6 steals, 3.4 blocks (27 games, Team Elite)
Draft Age: 20.3
Thompson is a throwback two-guard who is way too fast to stop in a transition offense and he has a nasty running hook shot that he busts out during live action. With his explosiveness, the Rockets would be thrilled to pair him with Jalen Green.
No. 29, Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee): Rayan Rupert
New Zealand Breakers (Australia), International, 6-6
Stats per 40 minutes via Cerebro (2021-22 U18 ANGT):
27.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 3.2 3-pointers made, 5.5 steals (3 games, INSEP)
Draft Age: 19.0
France’s Ousmane Dieng helped used Australia’s Next Stars program as a pipeline to the first round of the NBA Draft, enjoying success with the New Zealand Breakers. Rayan Rupert looks to continue in that lineage next year.
Rupert is efficient and effective as the ball-handler in transition, and he can shoot off the bounce. He has a massive wingspan and he defends well on the perimeter. Rupert’s father was the captain of the French national team and his sister was drafted No. 12 overall by the Las Vegas Aces in 2021.