It's been widely rumored that the Houston Rockets are stockpiling draft picks in an effort to make a run at Dwight Howard, but, for now, the team has a unique opportunity to re-shape their franchise by finding three starting-caliber players at a below market value in the middle of one of the deepest drafts in the last decade.
And in the latest mock draft from ESPN Insider Chad Ford, the depth of Houston's options at 14, 16 and 18 becomes apparent:
Analysis: I have serious doubts that the Rockets are actually making this pick. Serious doubts. But if they are, they do need size and Meyers Leonard has solid long-term potential.
Analysis: The Rockets are looking for assets as they try to package players to facilitate a trade. Adding Moe Harkless to their stock of young players might be a smart move. Lots of teams have shown interest in him. He is athletic, has great upside and can defend multiple positions. He's sort of a young Trevor Ariza.
Analysis: The Wolves have agreed to send the 18th pick in the draft to the Rockets for Chase Budinger. We'll leave Arnett Moultrie here for now because the Rockets do like him. But the plan is clear. The Rockets are trying to package 14, 16 and 18 and Kyle Lowry to get multiple top-10 picks to offer to the Magic for Dwight Howard. I seriously doubt the Rockets will actually be selecting here on draft night.
While Ford thinks the Rockets will be looking to deal, he has them selecting one of the most athletic players in the draft at all three front-court positions.
A front-line of Leonard, Moultrie and Harkless would be one of the most athletic in the NBA, and they could develop into a devastating defensive combination at a bargain-basement price, especially if Houston keeps Kyle Lowry, an excellent playmaker, in the back-court.
In a scenario where the Rockets keep all three of their picks, they would probably want to take a flyer on a front-court player with more star potential (like Terrence Jones, Quincy Miller or Royce White), they would still have the chance to totally reshuffle their big men rotation and become one of the longest and most athletic teams in the NBA.