The Houston Rockets were eliminated in a heartbreaker against the Golden State Warriors during the 2018 NBA Western Conference Finals.
While they were playing without Chris Paul, the team struggled to hit three-pointers and lost early leads against the defending champions in two consecutive games. Now, their focus switches to the upcoming draft. We took a look at the top players they have scheduled workouts with to figure out who they may be targeting when they are on the clock with the No. 46 pick.
Houston only has a second-round pick, but can still find some depth to add to their rotation for next season.
De’Anthony Melton, Guard (USC)
Melton did not play last season, but led the Pac-12 in steals and steal percentage during his freshman year at USC. His block percentage and defensive box plus-minus were also both Top 10 in the conference during his lone collegiate season. He is a little over 6-foot-3 with shoes, but his 6-foot-8 wingspan will continue to help him as a defensive stopper at the next level. While he is not expected to be on the board when they are on the clock, they worked him out and could try to trade up to get him (perhaps just using cash considerations).
He told HoopsHype he believes his role as a distributor will translate to the next level: “That’s the way the game is played today because the more players you use, the better. I really try to get the best out of everyone and I want to make sure everyone is happy and gets the touches they need to be successful. I pride myself on that. I play the game the right way and I can fit in anywhere.”
Devonte’ Graham, Guard (Kansas)
The former Kansas guard ranked No. 45 overall in our latest aggregate big board, which is almost exactly where the Rockets will draft next month. If he’s still available, the Big 12 Player of the Year would be a solid fit for their rotation. He averaged 17.3 points, 7.2 assists and 2.8 threes per game last season.
Graham also led the conference in assists and overall offensive win shares, which is especially impressive because projected lottery picks such as Trae Young, Zhaire Smith and Mo Bamba were all in the Big 12 as well. His collegiate system was similar to the Rockets, considering they were one of the top three-point shooting teams among all Division I programs.
Carsen Edwards, Guard (Purdue)
The 20-year-old guard has worked out for seven NBA teams, including the Rockets. Last season Edwards won The Jerry West Award, which goes to the top collegiate shooting guard, after averaging 18.5 points and 2.6 three-pointers per game as a sophomore. His offensive box plus-minus was second overall in the Big 10 and only one player in the conference scored more points last season. He projects as a high-volume scorer off the bench as a pro.
Edwards has until tomorrow to decide if he will stay in the draft or return to Purdue for his junior year. He was the shortest player at the 2018 NBA Draft Combine, so he will have to adjust to the game as a point guard and not a shooting guard in the league. Both his wingspan (6-foot-6) and standing reach (7-foot-10) are very impressive giving his height, however, and he may provide more help on defense than one would expect given his stature. Last season, his steal percentage ranked Top 10 in his conference.
Ky Bowman, Guard (Boston College)
Bowman averaged 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.3 three-pointers per game as a sophomore. He ranked Top 10 in his conference in points, assists, defensive rebounds, steals and field goal percentage in the ACC last season. While he has also worked out for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder, he could also opt to return to college next season.
It’s worth mentioning that Bowman is a former football player, which helps him on the defensive side of the ball and as a rebounder. He has a sense of explosiveness, too. The guard put up 30 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists against the No. 1 team in the AP poll (Duke) back in December 2017.
Brian Bowen, Wing (South Carolina)
The 19-year-old did not play in college since he was suspended by Louisville as part of a corruption scandal, but Bowen was a highly-rated recruit coming into high school. After initially committing to Louisville, he can now play for South Carolina if he decides to withdraw from this year’s draft. He has also worked out for the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks.
Bowen looked sharp during one of his scrimmages at the 2018 NBA Draft Combine, recording 13 points and 12 rebounds.