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Report: Clingan, Sheppard at top of Rockets' draft board

Jeff Haynes / National Basketball Association / Getty

Connecticut center Donovan Clingan is rising toward the top of the Houston Rockets' draft board, with Kentucky sharpshooter Reed Sheppard closely behind, league sources told The Athletic's Kelly Iko.

Rival teams reportedly see Clingan and Sheppard as two players who could be drafted in the top four picks. The Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, and Portland Trail Blazers are among the most aggressive clubs trying to acquire the Rockets' No. 3 selection to choose Clingan or Sheppard, according to Iko.

Clingan averaged 13 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in his sophomore season with the title-winning Huskies. The 20-year-old had a dominant finish to the season, averaging 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks in the NCAA Tournament.

Sheppard averaged 12.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.5 steals in his freshman season at Kentucky. The 19-year-old also knocked down 52.1% of his attempts from deep. Sheppard is expected to visit the Rockets by the end of the week.

While Houston is prepared to draft third overall, the franchise still hopes to move the pick, Iko reports. The franchise could trade back and acquire additional draft capital, with general manager Rafael Stone and head coach Ime Udoka being fans of Grizzlies guard and former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, per Iko.

The Rockets missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season despite finishing 2023-24 with a 41-41 record and a 19-win improvement over the previous campaign. Houston landed the No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft from the Brooklyn Nets in the James Harden trade.

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