Southwest Notes: Rockets, Zion, McCollum, Irving, Grizzlies

Assuming Victor Wembanyama, Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson will be the first three picks in the draft, who will the Rockets target at No. 4? Kelly Iko of The Athletic explores that question in his first installment of the team’s big board.

With the assistance of a high-ranking scout, Iko puts Amen Thompson at the top of the list. Thompson would make a great fit for Houston defensively, given its current talent level, though there are questions about the Overtime Elite guard offensively. Villanova forward Cam Whitmore follows him on Iko’s list, thanks to his explosiveness and athleticism in the open floor.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans guard CJ McCollum dispensed career advice to oft-injured Zion Williamson, RealGM relays. Speaking on the Ryen Russillo Show, McCollum said he and Larry Nance Jr. have engaged in multiple conversations with Williamson, whose toughness was questioned when he didn’t play after Jan. 2 due to a hamstring injury. “Your ceiling is unlike anything the NBA has ever seen,” McCollum said of his advice to Williamson. “But it’s up to you to take full advantage of whatever that is. I can’t want it for you. Mom can’t want it for you. Dad can’t want it for you. Staff can’t want it for you. So, it’s up to you to decide what that looks like. You’ve got to figure out what you want to do with this game, because this game will go where you take it.”
  • Following a report of a  “handshake deal” with the Mavericks, along with attending Lakers games during the postseason, Kyrie Irving indicated on Instagram he’ll control the narrative of his free agency (hat tip to RealGM).  “If you hear something about my career, it’s going to happen direct like this,” Irving said. “I am an independent agency. It’s just me.”
  • In a subscriber-only story, Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian details the lessons that the Grizzlies learned during their abbreviated playoff run. He opines they need to be patient with the team’s core and coach Taylor Jenkins but aggressively pursue ways to improve their postseason chances.
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