Report: Rockets have Paolo-or-bust draft plan, could move up

Field Level Media

June 23, 2022 at 2:27 pm.

Paolo Banchero is the player the Houston Rockets covet in the 2022 NBA Draft, and they’re reportedly willing to make a deal to get him.

Banchero, who played one season at Duke, worked out twice for the Rockets — once in Memphis — and was in the team facility the day starting forward Christian Wood was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks for a first-round draft pick.

The 6-foot-10 forward from Seattle averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 39 starts with the Blue Devils this season.

When the sun came up on draft day, the No. 1 overall pick still belonged to the Orlando Magic.

ESPN reported early Thursday that Auburn freshman Jabari Smith was still the likely top pick to Orlando.

Houston entered Thursday with the No. 3 pick, but also owns the 17th and 26th selections, ammunition that could propel them up the board on Thursday night.

ESPN also reported the Rockets are planning to do whatever it takes to pair Banchero with their 2021 first-round pick, Jalen Green.