2023 NBA Mock Draft: Mavericks dream draft choice falls, Rockets shock at 4

2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama
2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama / Christian Liewig - Corbis/GettyImages
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20. Houston Rockets (via Clippers) take Rayan Rupert

The Rockets went with Cam Whitmore at four, and they still need additional defensive help after Houston finished 29th in defensive rating. They are hoping to add James Harden to be their lead playmaker, but his defense is questionable at best. Could the Rockets take a swing on a lockdown defensive wing with a questionable offensive game?

Rupert is 6’6 with a 7’2 wingspan. He competes hard on the defensive end and can guard virtually any player on the floor. The Rockets could make him their on-ball stopper that can switch onto bigs. His father played professionally and his sister is currently in the WNBA. Rupert knows what it takes to succeed, and he figures to be impactful quickly on the defensive end.

What does he offer on the other end of the floor? His ball-handling and playmaking chops are improving, but he struggles to shoot and had a negative assist-to-turnover ratio with the New Zealand Breakers last season. Finding Rupert an offensive niche will be key in keeping him on the floor.

The Houston Rockets could go in a lot of different directions with both of their first-round draft picks. If James Harden decides against returning to Houston, they could take Amen Thompson at four and someone like Keyonte George here to improve their playmaking and offensive punch. June 22 could tell fans a lot about the Rockets' plans in free agency, which is just one more storyline to watch.