1 sleeper prospect Rockets must target in 2023 NBA Draft

The Houston Rockets, after two seasons of finishing with the worst record in the NBA, are no longer the league’s doormat. Alas, they still finished with the second-worst record in the NBA, and at the moment, barring a meteoric rise from one of their young prospects, it looks like that will continue on for the next few years. Thus, it’s not a surprise at all that the Rockets front office is looking to make some major moves this coming offseason, with franchise legend James Harden looking like their main target in free agency.

Even then, building through the draft has been the Rockets’ MO ever since they decided to trade away Harden in early 2021. Up until this point, the Rockets have drafted Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Tari Eason, and acquired Kevin Porter Jr. to be the foundational pieces of the franchise. And they will have yet another opportunity to add a blue-chip prospect to their ranks, as they have a 14 percent chance to turn their franchise around by drafting Victor Wembanyama.

Still, selecting a prospect atop the NBA Draft isn’t the most difficult, although teams have made plenty of blunders with those draft choices before. Nevertheless, the Rockets are guaranteed to have at least a top-six pick, which puts them in prime position to draft a game-changer, even if they miss out on Wembanyama.

What would be a greater success, however, is if the Rockets nail their other first-round selection, the 20th pick they acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Eric Gordon trade.

The Rockets have proven that they can draft well in the middle of the first round, with Alperen Sengun and Tari Eason looking like rotation fixtures for years to come. Sengun and Eason came with plenty of question marks, and yet the Rockets are better off having drafted them.

Knowing their track record with developing mid first-round prospects, the Rockets could very well have success if they add this young, athletic forward to their ranks.

1 sleeper prospect Rockets must target in 2023 NBA Draft: GG Jackson

Does GG Jackson, the 18-year old forward out of South Carolina, count as a sleeper? It doesn’t seem like there’s a consensus for where Jackson would end up at the moment; the NBA Draft Combine should clarify Jackson’s draft stock even further. But for now, plenty of draft experts have placed Jackson as a likely mid to late first-round pick, which is actually a testament to his athletic gifts and projectable development more so than his production in his lone year at college.

For starters, Jackson’s shooting numbers at South Carolina stand out as a huge red flag. Jackson, all season long, had troubles with his efficiency. He finished the year with an unsightly 38.4 field-goal percentage, and his shooting numbers at the foul line – 67.7 percent on 3.9 attempts per game – doesn’t exactly portend the development of elite shooting at the next level. Overall, he finished his collegiate tenure with a ghastly 47.4 True Shooting percentage, which would be the second-worst mark in the NBA among qualified players.

Still, it’s important to highlight that GG Jackson won’t be turning 19 until December. For him to score 15 points per game at such a young age while not exactly playing for the best of collegiate programs is promising, and his three-point shooting (32.4 percent), given the difficulty of the shots he takes, could get better especially once he plays alongside more talented playmakers.

Nevertheless, his physical gifts for his age jump off the page, and it’s this athleticism that gives scouts hope that Jackson won’t end up washing out of the league after just a few years. At 6’9, 215 lbs., he has an NBA-ready body which will allow him to survive while banging against some of the strongest basketball players in the world.

His motor is always running as well; when he’s not miscast in a lead role, like he was at South Carolina, that second effort and hustle should have more chances to shine, giving him potential to emerge as one of the most versatile defenders in his draft class after a less-than-inspiring defensive year for him with the Gamecocks.

The Rockets will start Jabari Smith Jr. at the four next season, so GG Jackson won’t have to deal with the pressure of having to produce right away. New head coach Ime Udoka can bring him along slowly, as part of a wrecking-ball bench duo, or perhaps even a trio depending on the what the Rockets do with their own pick, alongside Tari Eason and Kenyon Martin Jr.

The post 1 sleeper prospect Rockets must target in 2023 NBA Draft appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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