The Rockets snookered the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls and now have the best chance to salivate at another imposing center.

This time, it isn’t Hakeem we’re talking about. Nor is silky-smooth Virginia Slim Ralph Sampson in the picture. This NBA Draft looks like Commish David Stern’s handiwork and Yao Ming’s 7’5″ frame heading to the Pit of the Southwest.

Well, at least the Knicks didn’t slime this operation, settling for seventh. But the ball is in Houston’s corner, and that is exactly why this draft should be anything but ordinary.

The Rockets stun the basketball world and current precedent by nabbing Jay Williams first overall. Houston needs size, so they trade Eddie Griffin (last season’s flop) and Cuttino Mobley (a skilled two) for a bona fide center.

So, here is the 2002 Daily Nexus Mock NBA lottery picks. Read it and weep:

1. Houston: J-Will slides into the lineup and brings back some excitement to an ordinary team in the Western Conference. Steve Franchise can play, but he’d show more of an upside if he could feed off Williams, a player of similar mentality. Francis moves to the two, but the Rockets need immediate help down low.

2. Chicago: Krause sets off a hydrogen bomb in the city. Yao Ming and his 5.3 ppg and 2.7 rpg land in Chicago like a paper airplane. Turns out he’s a combination of Bill Wennington, Luc Longley and John Salley, and none of those mean he has any good traits: he’s slow, stupid and can’t act.

3. Golden State: Boo-hoo. You boneheads nailed Joe Smith at one. No soup for you, G-State. Warriors settle for surprise Caron Butler, possibly the most talented player in the draft.

4. Memphis: Jerry West and Grizz need backcourt punch. Though guards are weak this year, West picks up local kid Dajuan Wagner and West puts a leash on him. Wagner once drilled 100 in high school.

5. Denver: Nuggets = Spiraling Abyss. GM Kiki Vandeweghe, in a desperate move for attention, drafts himself. Vandeweghe beats out Jordan to be the first man to shake his own hand at the podium. Stern shrugs and the Rockets end up winning it all next June.