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Houston Chronicle: Early intel points to Paolo Banchero at No. 3 overall

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After spending a week at the NBA draft combine, longtime Houston Chronicle beat writer Jonathan Feigen appears confident in Paolo Banchero falling to the Rockets at No. 3 overall in the first round.

Feigen, whose latest mock draft projects Banchero to Houston, explained what he has heard in a recent televised appearance on Texas Sports Nation, which airs each week on Houston’s NBC affiliate, KPRC.

Among Feigen’s comments from the May 22 video:

Will it be Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, or Paolo Banchero?

Paulo Banchero, come on down.

The night of the lottery, I was hearing a lot of GMs and front-office types saying, ‘Hey, this isn’t as certain as you guys keep thinking it is.’ But as the days of the NBA combine went by in Chicago, more and more were telling me, ‘Yeah, it’s going to be those three, and really, Smith and Holmgren are going to be one and two.’

While Banchero is viewed by many as the best offensive prospect of the trio, most draft experts are higher on the other two players, defensively. But while Banchero isn’t a rim protector, he offers other qualities.

“I think he’s going to be okay as a switch defender, at 6-10, 255 (pounds),” Feigen said of Banchero. “You don’t see that a lot. It remains to be seen how he will be off the ball.”

Feigen also believes Banchero will be the most ready of that top prospect trio for his 2022-23 rookie season in the NBA.

“If nothing else, to people who are disappointed not to get first or second (pick)… the Rockets will probably draft the guy who right now, today, and on the first day of the season, is the best player in the draft,” Feigen concludes. “Of course, you want to get the guy who is the best player of the group, whenever he is at his best. But that’s not a bad starting point.”

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