General manager Daryl Morey has brought an unpredictable personality to past year's drafts and this should be no different.
The man likes to make trades and will often pick talent over need. He has made wise decisions in both the first and second rounds since joining the team in 2007.
This year's draft has a bevy of possibilities, despite the fact that Houston owns only one pick in the entire draft, the 14th pick overall.
The Rockets' strategy is clear; they have some ammunition in terms of future picks and want to move up.
There are plenty of players that would fit on the Houston roster, so predicting which way they'll go is difficult.
But we will attempt to decipher the Rockets code to NBA Draft 2010 liftoff...
It is unlikely that the Rockets will trade any bodies on their roster or add undrafted players. But expect them to make a couple moves.
First, pick 14 is most likely not going to be in their possession. The Rockets aren't saying it too loudly, but they covet one of the big men available in this year's draft.
The team needs insurance for Yao Ming and an additional low post presence to help in terms of rebounding and to join Jordan Hill. The Rockets want to make sure they do not miss out on the big man run expected to occur from picks 5-12.
Perhaps more important to watch, however, is the the second round movement from Houston.
Morey has shown that he can find solid players in round two and likes to have some of those picks in his arsenal. Starting the draft with zero second round picks guarantees the Rockets will make at least one trade.
In year's past Morey has traded for Carl Landry in the second round in 2007 as well as Chase Budinger and two other 2nd round picks last year.
With plenty of solid prospects expected to fall into round two, the Rockets will go after a few.
First Round Selection Probabilities
Now that we've established the likeliness of trades, we'll tackle who the Rockets' first round targets will be.
On the tail end of the big man run are Ekpe Udoh , Ed Davis , and Cole Aldrich , and any of these players may be tempting for this Rockets team.
Of those three, Udoh and Davis have the most upside. The Rockets could really use the rebounding skills brought by both and the extra defensive presence each could bring.
Offensively, Davis has more potential than Udoh.
He has very good post moves and just needs to finish stronger. With coaching from Rick Adelman, Davis could develop into an extremely valuable player. He needs to add strength to his body and a short jump shot that could catapult him into finally living up to his potential.
As for Udoh, his shot blocking skills are some of the best in the draft this year. In addition to blocks, his 7'4 1/2" wingspan allows him to excel on both ends of the glass. He is an extremely efficient offensive rebounder and finds a way to put the ball back into the hoop.
Udoh is a pretty good ball handler for a man his size and can find the open man well. With hard work he can continue to improve his game and be a nice fit for the Rockets.
Aldrich would be a safe pick, but seems to be the most unlikely just for that reason—he is at his ceiling and has no additional upside. The Rockets would know the player they are getting and he wouldn't have that extra upside they'd look for in the future.
Two final names to look out for: Patrick Patterson and Luke Babbitt .
Patterson has a very well-rounded game and can play the "four" well. He still has some potential in the tank and would be a good offensive addition.
Babbitt is a similar player to Budinger. He lacks the overall size of the power forward spot, but can shoot the ball extremely well and has nice athletic moves.
Lots of teams are excited about him from his draft day workouts and while it may be a mirage, the Rockets may be buying in as well.
First Round Darkhorses
There are two players that may have the Rockets willing to just take a chance.
First is Al-Farouq Aminu. He is another small forward who possesses great athleticism and defensive skills, and he is also a freakish athlete.
If Aminu is still around past the sixth pick, the Rockets may jump on the 6'8" player. He would be a great fit for their offensive and work well with Aaron Brooks in transition situations.
Second is Gordon Hayward.
For some reason people still believe the second coming of Larry Bird is trying to escape him. He has a solid mid-range jumper, but the long range game isn't all there.
It would probably be a mistake for the Rockets, but the potential and talent factor is enticing for a team willing to take chances.
Second Round Watch
With the chance that Kyle Lowry will not be a member of their squad next year, keep an eye on backup guards that the Rockets may target if they can grab a second rounder.
Mikhail Torrance, Willie Warren, and Greivis Vasquez could all fit into the Rockets plans.
They would have to trade into the mid-second round for any of those guys, but with enough cash, it won't be a problem. All three have solid guard experience and could instantly enter the lineup.
In addition to the guards, there are a few lingering big men that could fall as well.
Tiny Gallon, Dexter Pittman, and Art Parakhouski are extremely large bodies that could have the Rockets thinking.
Many of the big men in the early rounds are slender and need to gain strength. These three men just need to be taught how to manage their super power.
Whatever the Rockets decide to do, one thing is for sure. You will hear the team name called more than once during Thursday's draft.
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