2024 NBA mock draft roundup: First-round projections for Rockets

Conference play is beginning in college basketball — and as the level of competition rises, the NBA draft picture for many of this year’s top prospects will increasingly come into better focus.

In 2024, the Rockets are unlikely to keep their own first-round draft choice, since Houston’s pick goes to Oklahoma City unless it lands in the top four of the draft lottery. With the NBA season nearing its midpoint, that scenario is becoming very unlikely, as Houston has remained near or slightly above .500 for most of the 2023-24 season.

Even if the Rockets don’t qualify for the 2024 playoffs, which would take a top-four finish completely off the table, the odds of a team near .500 securing one of the four lottery selections are very low.

Houston does, however, have a first-round selection headed its way from Brooklyn as part of the blockbuster James Harden trade from January 2021. The Nets have increasingly struggled in recent weeks, which is boosting the outlook for where that pick lands.

As of early January, here’s a look at who draft experts have going to Houston (with the Brooklyn pick) in the latest wave of mock drafts. Keep in mind that the projected pick slot varies based on the exact date of each mock’s publication, since the standings change daily.

The Rockets are also currently slotted to have three draft selections in the 2024 second round. Further details are available here.

No. 10 pick: Yves Missi, Baylor

Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report: Yves Missi, Baylor (7-foot-0 center, 235 pounds, 19 years old)

(Projection made as of January 5, 2024.)

Analysis by Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman:

With Dereck Lively II and Mark Williams going top 15 in stronger drafts, Yves Missi should generate 2024 lottery interest from teams looking to add frontcourt depth and rim protection.

Shooting 63.6% while averaging 4.6 blocks and 13.3 boards per 40 minutes, Missi also has the body, athleticism, hands and motor for his finishing and interior presence to translate. Watching him prevent Duke’s Kyle Filipowski from creating separation on a handful of possessions helped him move the needle with scouts.

Updated player statistics via Tankathon

No. 12 pick: Tidjane Salaun

Krysten Peek, Yahoo Sports: Tidjane Salaun, France’s Cholet (6-foot-9 wing, 203 pounds, 18 years old)

(Projection made as of December 18, 2023.)

Analysis by Yahoo’s Krysten Peek:

Salaun is a dynamic wing who is shooting the ball well recently for Cholet in the LNB Pro A league. In a win on Dec. 5, Salaun went 5-for-6 from 3-point range and had a season-high 24 points. His creation upside at the next level is unmatched and his scoring instincts are coming through this season. His 7-1 wingspan allows him to contest shots on the perimeter and he does a decent job defensively on the block. Salaun is averaging 16.4 points in the last three games and has seen his minutes increase over the season.

Updated player statistics via Tankathon

No. 11 pick: Donovan Clingan

Tankathon: Donovan Clingan, Connecticut (7-foot-2 center, 265 pounds, 19 years old)

(Projection made as of December 28, 2023.)

Analysis by Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman:

A foot strain cost Donovan Clingan a month back in September, and now he’s out another three to four weeks with a foot injury suffered against Seton Hall. It’s going to generate some discussion on durability, particularly given the amount of weight he carries around.

When healthy, he changes games on defense with his height, strength, mobility and anticipation. And that’s what NBA teams will be coveting, along with his ability to pick up easy finishes and putbacks.

Updated player statistics via Tankathon

No. 10 pick: Isaiah Collier Isaiah Collier, USC (6-foot-5 guard, 210 pounds, 19 years old)

(Projection made as of January 5, 2024.)

Analysis by Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman:

The early hype around Isaiah Collier is fading as his shooting percentages keep dipping, his turnover rate remains high and the USC losses continue to pile up.

Rather than picturing a franchise point guard to build around, It’s starting to look wiser to view him as a rotational guard who can help put pressure on the defense and rim and add some opportunistic playmaking.

While his shooting and decision-making have been problematic, his shiftiness, physical drives, tough finishes and passing flashes could still translate to effective offense in the right NBA role.

Updated player statistics via Tankathon

No. 14 pick: Kyle Filipowski

Nick Agar-Johnson, No Ceilings: Kyle Filipowski, Duke (7-foot-0 center, 248 pounds, 20 years old)

(Projection made as of December 7, 2023.)

Analysis by Nick Agar-Johnson of No Ceilings:

The Houston Rockets close out the lottery here by selecting Duke’s Kyle Filipowski. Filipowski was a somewhat surprising returner last season after being the most consistent player on a very inconsistent Duke team, so going in the lottery here would certainly justify that decision.

Filipowski has improved dramatically in terms of his efficiency inside the arc as well, and he makes a lot of sense for Houston as a third big behind Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr. The questions about Filipowski’s efficiency from long range and his defense remain, but his shot selection will almost certainly improve when he isn’t asked to carry the offense as he has been for Duke for the last two seasons.

Updated player statistics via Tankathon

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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire