The Rockets avoided the dire scenario of losing their first-round pick by securing the No. 2 overall pick in Tuesday’s 2021 NBA draft lottery. Assuming Cade Cunningham goes first to Detroit, as most expect, Houston general manager Rafael Stone could choose between top prospects such as Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, and Jalen Green.
By comparison, Houston had a much greater probability (47.9%) at finishing at No. 5, which would have sent their pick to Oklahoma City as a condition of the Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade in July 2019. But Oklahoma City’s right to swap picks with the Rockets was top-four-protected, and the lottery draw went Houston’s way. The stakes were enormous, since OKC also owns Miami’s first-round draft pick (No. 18) and would have been able to swap that one for the Houston pick.
However, the Rockets don’t have to worry about such a awful scenario any longer. After one of the worst seasons in franchise history, headlined by the forced departure of longtime superstar James Harden, the Rockets will be in position on July 29 to potentially pick their next star.
Here’s a look at how fans and media members reacted in real-time on Tuesday night, as the draft order was revealed on television.