In an NBA draft class touted by scouts as perhaps the strongest in years, Cade Cunningham is the clearcut top prospect. Word around the league is that Cunningham, regardless of team, would go first in the 2021 draft. The number one selection currently belongs to the Detroit Pistons after their lucky lottery on June 22nd. But rumors are swirling that, among other suitors, the Houston Rockets––who possess pick number two––will make a push to swap places with Detroit.
According to league The Athletic’s Zach Harper, “it’s believed the Rockets have been fixated” on Oklahoma State’s Cunningham. But the Pistons have the leverage here. Barring an overwhelming offer, Detroit will stand pat and try to construct a competitive roster around Cunningham.
Harper writes that while Houston is enamored of Cunningham’s talent, they “don’t believe in offering up to Detroit what it would take to move into the top spot.” Assuming the Rockets don’t strike a deal with the Pistons, Houston is also a candidate to move down.
If general manager Rafael Stone perceives a meaningful enough drop in value from picks one to two, the rebuilding Rockets could shop number two for multiple assets.
Will the Rockets change their stance on a potential move up to snag Cade Cunningham? If they don't, they could wheel and deal the No. 2 pickhttps://t.co/T8W4gG9cIl
— Rockets Nation (@RocketsNationCP) July 9, 2021
“Houston could look to trade…for a more definite young star, i.e. someone already in the league,” Harper says. “But league sources also have echoed sentiments that Houston could throw a lot of stuff out into the ether and see if it spurs any kind of rush toward offering the Rockets unbalanced trades in Houston’s favor.”
After a turbulent few seasons culminating in the departures of James Harden and Daryl Morey, Houston might be the enigma of the July 29 draft.