The Rockets are upset by their first-round exit at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers, and they will be looking to improve their roster through free agency, the draft and possibly even trades.
According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, Houston is willing to trade anyone not named James Harden or Dwight Howard for a superstar. So if that's the case, the Rockets' needs could change drastically should general manager Daryl Morey pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Houston will decline Chandler Parsons' team option for next season, which hints at Morey trying to clear space and bring in a third star.
However, let's just assume that come draft night the Rockets will have essentially the same roster. Even though plenty of trade rumors have been swirling, Morey will still be focused on prospects in the upcoming draft.
With the 25th and 42nd picks, Houston can find some quality players who may have an impact in the near future, so long as they draft based on their certain areas that need improvement. Let's take a quick look at the holes that the Rockets must plug in order to avoid another early-round exit next season. Here are some improvements Houston must make.
True Point Guard
It is the general consensus that the Rockets' biggest void in their starting five is at point guard. Patrick Beverley, although a terrific defender and energetic hustler, is not a good facilitator on offense. Neither of his backups, Jeremy Lin and Isaiah Canaan, can really fill that role either.
This past season, the three of those guards, along with Aaron Brooks, made up a solid depth chart at point. The Rockets felt confident enough in their guard play that they decided to ship off Brooks at the deadline. Even though each of these four players is a capable NBA guard, none of them are in the top half in the league.
The Rockets would truly benefit from a point guard who is closer to the top tier that can run the offense smoothly. Many times last season, the Houston offense became stagnant with Harden running the show. There were too many isolations and empty possessions, and don't forget about the second-worst turnover rate in the league,
A true point guard could come in and facilitate the offense for more efficient possessions. He could create more scoring chances for Harden and even Howard in the post and on the alley-oops. Morey will definitely keep a lookout for some talented guards at the draft.
Potential picks: Tyler Ennis, Elfrid Payton, Shabazz Napier
More Meat and Potatoes
Perhaps one of the biggest issues for the Rockets in their playoff matchup against Portland was foul trouble, particularly among their big men. Whenever Omer Asik or Dwight got into foul trouble, sometimes even both, it was bad news for Houston.
Morey may decide to add some more size to his roster in the draft. There are a handful of athletic giants in this year's class that would give Houston some extra paint presence down low.
The Rockets are interested in big men, but they are particularly interested in big men who can shoot. A stretch 4 in a lineup alongside Howard could wreak havoc (Exhibit A: Ryan Anderson, 2011-12 Orlando Magic). Although Terrence Jones was sufficient this season, he barely shot over 30 percent from behind the arc.
It would be a significant bonus if the Rockets got a power forward or center who is a threat from long range.
Potential picks: Adreian Payne, Jarnell Stokes, Patric Young, Kristaps Porzingis
It's no secret that the Rockets struggle defensively. They gave up over 103 points per contest, well in the bottom third of the NBA.
Aside from Howard, Asik and Beverley, none of the Rockets are particularly talented defenders. The twin towers can generally clog up the middle, and Beverley can do his pesky thing up top, but the perimeter defense is dangerously thin.
It was an outrage that Harden ended up receiving two All-NBA defense votes, which is understandable. If there's an 11-minute YouTube video of you playing horrendous defense, you probably don't deserve any votes.
Anyhow, Houston could certainly use some defensive help. Morey will probably try to resolve this issue via free agency; however, there are a few guys he should consider in the draft. It would be nice if these defensive specialists were not offensive liabilities, however.
Potential picks: K.J. McDaniels, C.J. Fair, Aaron Craft
Last, and certainly not least, the Rockets need to add more sharpshooters to their arsenal. Houston took the most threes out of any team last season, but it finished in the middle of the pack in percentage.
If the Rockets insist on using a system that launches dozens of three-pointers per game, then they should build their roster in a more suitable manner to match that strategy. That theory proved correct in the playoffs, when coach Kevin McHale decided to replace Francisco Garcia with Troy Daniels. The rook knocked down this heroic game-winner with no hesitation in a must-win situation.
Daniels, who spent nearly the entire season with the D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers, shot 53.3 percent from deep in the playoffs. The Rockets need more snipers like him on their bench to boost their long-distance shooting percentage and to help space the floor.
There are plenty of flamethrowers coming up through the draft this year. Morey can sit back and wait for one to fall into his hands.
Potential picks: Rodney Hood, C.J. Wilcox, Jabari Brown, P.J. Hairston