With Jabari Smith likely going first, and Chet Holmgren second in the 2022 draft, Duke star Paolo Banchero is pretty much a lock to go third to the Houston Rockets this summer.
Interestingly enough, league executives still think pretty highly of Banchero and have even tagged him as the most "NBA-ready" prospect in the draft.
As reported in last week’s aggregate mock draft, the Rockets were gauging the trade market on Christian Wood, with Paolo Banchero projected to go third overall to Houston in the draft.
Banchero met with the Rockets, including general manager Rafael Stone recently.
“They have a young crew and see me fitting right in with my playmaking skills and putting me anywhere on the floor,” Banchero said on a Zoom media availability call. “Putting us together and trying to create something is a plan they have.”
Several executives consider Banchero the most NBA-ready of the top prospects in this year’s draft class.
Banchero may not be as exciting as Chet or Smith, but his potential should not be ignored. He is a three-level scorer with sound playmaking and quality defensive abilities.
In Houston, he could blossom next to Jalen Green and help restore the Rockets to a competitive state in the West. As a young and unproven prospect, the pressure will fall on Paolo to live up to the hype and become the player he has assured the world he would be.
"You know there's a lot of guys, obviously there's a couple that I really try to take things away from, that's LeBron, Jayson Tatum, Giannis, Carmelo, just guys who got a similar physical build," said Banchero. "But I also feel like I'm unique in my own ways and I feel like I take parts of all their games and try to put it into mine and add my own flavor to it."
If Paolo can come in and contribute immediately, it might go a long way in turning the situation around for Houston. In the aftermath of James Harden's departure, they need all the help they can get.
Still, it remains to be seen how the draft will play out. As updates continue to release, there is a sense that anything can happen with these prospects and it will be interesting to see how it all settles.