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Mock Draft Roundup: NBA Experts Predict Rockets Picks

While the No. 3 pick is looking more clear, No. 17 seems to be the more interesting scenario.

The NBA Draft is just days away and is set to kick off on June 23 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Houston Rockets enter the draft with two premium picks, one at No. 3, and the other at No. 17.

Although its not a given that Houston will keep both picks — trade talks always heat up as the draft inches closer — there are a lot of talented prospects who could potentially hear their name called by Houston. Here is a mock draft round-up of who NBA experts believe the Rockets will select on draft night.

No. 3

Sports IllustratedChet Holmgren, F/C, Gonzaga

Should Holmgren indeed fall to the Rockets, who would instantly give them an upgrade at the center spot, but also a player who can truly stretch the floor from the center position -- something Houston has not had in some time. 

It feels fairly safe to assume that the Rockets are going to grab whichever of the top three bigs falls to them here, which in this scenario is Holmgren. Houston needs frontcourt help, and Jaden Ivey isn’t a great fit with the roster. It’s easy enough to connect those dots. Holmgren is a unique prospect in so many ways, which also makes him polarizing around the league, but the Rockets are in the middle of a long-term process and can afford him time to get comfortable. Winding up with Holmgren, who has consistently driven winning and doesn’t require a ton of offensive touches to add value, would be a pretty nice outcome. - Jeremy Woo

CBS SportsPaolo Banchero, PF, Duke

Banchero has been by far the most connected name to the Rockets through this process and is arguably the most NBA-ready player amongst the top prospects. He is also a solid fit in the Rockets scheme under Stephen Silas and could make an impact immediately.

Banchero is probably the safest option at the top of this draft on account of his floor being so high. He's a big, strong and skilled forward who could be an incredible building block in Houston alongside Jalen Green. - Gary Parrish

Yahoo SportsPaolo Banchero, PF, Duke

Once again, Banchero and the Rockets are connected. It seems like a matter of if, rather than when. Out of the top draft pics, Banchero is the readiest to help Houston now, and that's what they need. 

Banchero feels like a lock at No. 3 with his incredible instincts as a primary ball-handler and his size. It wouldn't be wise for Houston to pass on Banchero with the young talent the Rockets have coming up in the organization. - Krysten Peek

USA TodayPaolo Banchero, PF, Duke

Stop us if you've heard this one before, but according to another expert, Banchero is heading to the Rockets.

Remember when the Celtics said they would have selected Jayson Tatum at No. 1 overall even though they got him with the third pick? I predict we will hear the same thing from the Rockets if they land Duke’s Paolo Banchero.

Although there are some evaluators who prefer Holmgren or Smith, others have long had Banchero atop their big board due to his advanced processing, feel for the game, and self-creation.

“He is going to become a better 3-point shooter,” one NBA scout, who believes Banchero is the best player in the class, told For The Win. “He has that aggressiveness and playmaking, he can make plays for his teammates.” — Bryan Kalbrosky

ESPNPaolo Banchero, PF, Duke

In case you more proof, barring something unforeseen, Banchero to the Rockets seems to be inevitable at this point. The Magic and Thunder appear to be eyeing big men, leaving the best fit for the Rockets available at No. 3.

The Rockets are early in their rebuilding process and will be intrigued by the star power offered by Banchero, the most polished offensive player in the class. A 6-10, shot-creating dynamo who can carry a significant load with his ability to handle, pass and shoot, Banchero's playmaking ability should pair well with the explosive transition scoring and shot-making ability Jalen Green offers. Banchero could start next to a more traditional big man (Alperen Sengun) or operate alongside another perimeter-oriented big man (Christian Wood), making him a strong fit for the Rockets long-term.. — Jonathan Givony

No. 17

Sports IllustratedOchai Agbaji, SG, Kansas

Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 215 | Age: 22 | Senior

Another steal for the Rockets here, Agbaji was one of the top college players in the nation last season. And while his age for a rookie will not be ideal, he would still be an excellent fit next to Jalen Green.

The Rockets should have some flexibility here at 17, and presuming they grab a forward at No. 3, this could be a spot to add a perimeter player. While Agbaji would be a more conservative choice here, he’s likely to come off the board in the teens and should supply reliable shooting and defense early in his career. There’s some skepticism as to how much upside he really offers considering he doesn’t create much off the dribble, but he’s turned himself into a reliable player, and his low-maintenance game and floor-spacing skills could add some stability in Houston alongside Jalen Green and whoever they take at No. 3. - Jeremy Woo

CBS Sports: Ousmane Dieng, Wing, France

More of a long-term play, Dieng is a raw prospect investment that the Rockets could see pay dividends down the road. Long, athletic wings are a premium in the NBA, and Dieng is that. 

Dieng is a long and skilled prospect who still needs to develop but is worth a serious look anywhere outside of the lottery. He might not contribute immediately but definitely projects as an interesting long-term investment. - Gary Parrish

Yahoo SportsTyTy Washington, G, Kentucky

Among their vast needs across the board, the Rockets need guard help. TyTy Washington could provide a good fit. He can play both on and off the ball and is a solid creator. 

Kentucky head coach John Calipari has a tremendous track record with his former players, particularly guards, being productive pros. Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, De’Aaron Fox, Tyler Herro, Tyrese Maxey and Immanual Quickley all played under coach Cal and Washington could be the next great guard to come out of Lexington. He played off the ball during his one year at Kentucky but is very comfortable as a primary ball handler and doesn’t have a problem getting downhill and creating for others. - Krysten Peek

USA Today: Leonard Miller, G, Canada (High School)

One of the most intriguing prospects in the entire draft, Leonard Miller is a 6-11 guard that has a lot of tools in the toolbox. However, his development will take time, and he is more of a long-term play than other options on the table. 

Miller could still withdraw from the NBA draft to play for the G League Ignite. But if he stays in, he would be the youngest (and arguably most fascinating) prospect in this class.

While he didn’t look ready for pro minutes during recent 5-on-5 scrimmages at the NBA Draft Combine, I’m still a believer in Miller’s long-term potential because he has so many interesting development pathways. Houston also has a surplus of draft picks over the next few years, and with his unique profile, I predict they take a home run swing here. — Bryan Kalbrosky

ESPNMalaki Branham, SG, Ohio State

Another backcourt mate for Jalen Green to play off of, Branham is a floor spacer that would fit nicely in the Rockets' offense. 

The Rockets need to keep stockpiling talent, which could very well lead them in the direction of Branham if he indeed falls to them at No. 17. Playing 33-year-old Eric Gordon for 29 minutes per game again doesn't make a great deal of sense considering the rebuilding stage the Rockets are in, and flipping Gordon for whatever draft pick they can get is logical with his injury history. That would free up playing time for a high-upside 19-year-old prospect such as Branham, who offers floor-spacing ability as well as shot creation from the perimeter and midrange. — Jonathan Givony

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