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Six-time NBA All-Star Yao Ming was drafted by the Rockets in 2003 with the first overall pick of the draft.

The Houston Rockets joined the NBA in 1967 as the San Diego Rockets, but moved to Houston in 1971, where they have been located ever since.

In the first four drafts the Rockets participated in, each team had a total of 90 draft choices (14 in 1967, and 19 each from 1968 to 1971). For two drafts in 1972 and 1973, there were eight rounds, and from 1974 to 1985, the draft was 10 rounds long. However, in 1985, the draft was shortened to seven rounds, and in 1989, the NBA agreed with the National Basketball Players' Association to limit drafts to two rounds, an arrangement that has remained the same up the present time. Before each draft, an NBA Draft Lottery determines the first round selection order for the teams that missed the playoffs during the prior season.

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