Here's what lies ahead for Houston Rockets after scoring big on Draft night

Here's what lies ahead for Houston Rockets after scoring big on Draft night
The Rockets drafted Amen Thompson number four overall. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets are attempting to turn the corner. Gone are the days of trusting the process. No more lovable losers. So long to constantly scouting the NCAA, G League, overseas, and any other haven for young talent. There will be no more last, next to last, or closest to last place finishes. It's time to look towards the play-in slots, playoff positioning, playoff tickets, themes for playoff game giveaways, and all that comes with winning.

While they didn't win the lottery to draft French Ralph Sampson, they got another very high pick and took Amen Thompson at number four, then got what most consider a steal in Cam Whitmore at number 20. Neither guy is franchise altering. I expect both should be contributors on a team competing for at least a seven to 10 spot in the Western Conference this season. Adding them to a young core that's growing and getting better while mixing in a good young coach in Ime Udoka, who's proven to get the most out of his players, is a recipe for success.

Amen Thompson has been described by some as one of the best athletes in the draft. He's a big guard who loves pushing the ball and can find his teammates. He's an adept passer that always wants to make the right play. His outside shooting needs work. At 6'7 and 215lbs, he has an NBA body and played last season in Overtime Elite (a pro league for 16-20 year olds looking to get to the next level outside of college, Europe, or the G League). His work ethic is evidenced by his backstory. His family created a vision board for he and his twin brother Ausar (picked at number five by the Pistons). They followed the plan, which consisted of dad and the twins moving to Florida to further pursue their ultimate goal. That type of work ethic and dedication in a 20-year-old rookie is what you want to see in a guy you draft this high.

Cam Whitmore is a 6'7 232lb forward who can do a number of things. Seen as a top five talent before the draft, falling to number 20 should undoubtedly motivate him. He was one of four Power Five freshman last season to record at least 25 dunks and 25 threes. The other three guys were also drafted in the first round (Jarace Walker at eight, Taylor Hendricks at nine, and Noah Clowney at 21). He fell in the draft due to some effort and intensity concerns at workouts and practices. There were also some medical concerns. When it came time to play, he always stood out. I think once Whitmore gets around other young pros and sees how competitive it is, he'll blossom. Udoka will know exactly how to get the best out of him and where to use him most effectively.

I can see Thompson being the lead guard this team has been looking for. If they bring in a vet through free agency, I could see him being another athletic wing, and/or lead guard of the second unit. Whitmore will play a Tari Eason/KJ Martin role on this team. He'll be the switch wing defender who can shoot the spot up three, or slash and make highlight reel dunks. A real three and D guy with a frame big enough to handle the rigors of the league.

Getting two top five talents with the picks they had was good work by the organization. Now it's up to the players and staff to maximize each guy's potential. I'm looking forward to seeing this team and what they can do. Pieces are coming together nicely. We're seeing athletic guys who can play and defend multiple positions, while having more skills than just being really athletic. Free agency is up next. My guess is the team will continue to add the right pieces. My hope is that the price is right.

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Will all the Texans playmakers be satisfied with their roles in the offense? Composite Getty Image.

ESPN Texans reporter DJ Bien-Aime joined The Mina Kimes Show this weekand shared his thoughts on the Texans outlook this season.

When looking at the Texans offense, Bien-Aime pointed to Houston's play calling as being a possible issue in 2024. Bobby Slowik did a terrific job in his first season as an offensive coordinator. But he will have his hands full keeping all his playmakers happy with Stefon Diggs joining the team, and Nico Collins expecting a ton of looks after signing a massive contract extension.

Which got us thinking, are there enough catches to go around?

We took a deep dive into the 2023 numbers and here's what we found. CJ Stroud averaged 21 completions per game. And here's a breakdown of how many catches his receivers averaged last year.

Nico Collins 5.3 catches per game

Stefon Diggs (with Buffalo) 6.29 catches per game

Dalton Schultz 3.93 catches per game

Tank Dell 4.27 catches per game

Texans running backs 3.05 catches per game

If we add those up, the total is 22.84. Which means the Texans top receivers should expect a similar amount of production compared to last season. Of course, players like Noah Brown, Robert Woods, and Brevin Jordan will take targets away from Stefon Diggs and company from time to time.

But it's good to know that the Texans top pass catchers should produce numbers close to their 2023 averages. Which is a big deal for a player in a contract year like Diggs.

Another thing to note. We're factoring in that the Texans are expected to run out of 11 personnel most of the time. Which means Diggs, Collins, Dell, Schultz, and Mixon will be the only pass catchers on the field the majority of the time.

Are there concerns about the defense?

Both Kimes and Bien-Aime designated Houston's secondary as the big x-factor this year. Bien-Aime named cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. as the only player in the secondary that he truly trusts. Is he right?

Be sure to watch the video above as we react to Kimes and Bien-Aime's outlook for the Texans this year, and share our thoughts on the possible pitfalls the team will have to navigate in the short and long-term.

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