Everything in this NBA season was pushed back due to the late start, and the 2021 draft is next Thursday to essentially put a bow on this past season. Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham is a lock to go first overall to the Detroit Pistons. The -200 moneyline favorite at William Hill Sportsbook to be chosen second is G League guard Jalen Green, presumably to the Houston Rockets.
One thing to consider on these draft props is that it only means where the player is selected and not by which team. Thus, if you bet Green to go second and the Rockets trade out of that spot but Green still goes No. 2, it's a winner.
Houston had the NBA's worst record this past year at 17-55 and was in full tank mode for about the final two months, resting just about everyone of note. A team with 17 wins obviously could use help everywhere, but Houston's best player is 25-year-old center Christian Wood. The free-agent signee was limited to 41 games in 2020-21 but averaged 21.0 points on 51.4 percent shooting along with 9.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. He's signed through 2022-23 on a team-friendly contract.
Thus, it might not make sense for Houston to take USC big man Evan Mobley at No. 2 with Wood in place, and Mobley is a +180 second-favorite to be picked second. There are numerous reports out there that the Rockets are targeting Green because he's the best pure scorer in the draft and Houston needs backcourt help.
Green skipped college – sister site 247 Sports ranked him as the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2020 behind Cunningham -- and played for the G League Ignite, averaging 17.9 points. He could potentially form the team's future backcourt with Kevin Porter Jr. The Rockets would love to trade current point guard John Wall, but the veteran's bloated salary may make that impossible.
The CBS Sports Big Board ranks Green as the No. 2 prospect behind Cunningham and gives the 6-foot-6 Green a comp of Chicago Bulls All-Star Zach LaVine. Gary Parrish's latest mock draft has Green going second. ESPN's Jonathan Givony also slots Green at No. 2.
Believe it or not, Houston hasn't had a first-round pick since 2015 when it took Wisconsin's Sam Dekker at No. 18 overall. The Rockets haven't picked in the Top 3 since taking Chinese center Yao Ming at No. 1 in 2002.
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