Salman’s 2022 Big Board + Rockets Mock Draft (Tier 3)
Swinging for the fences
The top of the 2022 NBA Draft class is filled with players that possess the reasonable potential to become NBA All-Stars one day. Not all of them will achieve that, but they have a clearer path than what lies below. The first drop off in talent happens after the Tier 1 prospects: Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, and Jabari Smith Jr. To be clear, the prospects in Tier 2 also have star potential, but their odds of actualizing that potential are more long-shot. And when you get to Tiers 3 and 4 of this draft, things get wild.
I suspect that Tier 3 will have a lower percentage of long-term NBA contributors, but if your big board is set up correctly, it should yield more eventual All-Stars. Because while you may be able to find more dependable talent with a rock-solid floors in Tier 4, GMs should be swinging for the fences in this range of the draft. Drafting the players with the highest floors remaining may help you sleep better at night, but it’s not drafting with your franchise’s best interest at heart. A talented role player isn’t going to turn your team’s fortunes around, but a star certainly will.
Is it possible the player you draft washes out of the league in a couple of seasons and you’re left with nothing? Of course, but the organization isn’t going to be left with the burden of “What if?” if the player you passed up on becomes a role player. The same can’t be said if the player you passed up on becomes a star and you passed up on him because you were afraid of getting egg on your face. Admittedly, it’s easier said than done and these front offices have to make these decisions with their job security and families in mind.
(I do question anyone who enters the business of sports with job security in mind, but that’s a conversation for another day.)
Anyways, if the Rockets were to trade up to this range, it’s safe to assume they’re trying to swing for the fences on a player they really like. Much like Alperen Sengun last year, it’s unlikely they decide to fork over assets to move up for someone they believe will become just helpful role player. And even if they don’t decide to trade up for any of these players, we have officially entered the range of the draft where anyone can fall to an unexpected number. It’s my belief that if any of these players falls to Houston at 17th, they should pounce on the opportunity.
Let’s get started.
Note: From now on, these descriptions are going to get a lot shorter. After the first two tiers, the chances of landing a star player drops off dramatically. This is the swing tier.