With the 3rd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets select Auburn freshman Jabari Smith Jr.
Smith’s shot-making as a 6’10” forward is totally unmatched in this draft class, and I’d argue that it’s unmatched even in the past several Draft cycles. He ended his freshman season shooting 42% from the three-point line on 5.5 attempts per game and 80% from the charity stripe; these numbers make his shooting very believable and projectable in the NBA.
On the other end of the floor, his on-ball defense on the perimeter is his biggest strength. His lateral movement and reaction speed are elite to the point that he reminds me a bit of a super-sized Davion Mitchell on occasion. Smith isn’t necessarily a big-time shot-blocker but is completely stifling when on-ball, is switchable, and will almost certainly be able to guard four positions and likely some stretch fives too.
A concern some have about Smith’s game, though, is what he brings to the table on the offensive end of the floor if his shot isn’t falling. While I don’t think his game against Miami deserves to push Smith out of the conversation for the 1st overall pick, I think it could be indicative of his worst-possible outcome in the NBA.
While he’ll almost certainly bring good defense, rebounding, and shooting at the next level, he’ll have to develop his ball-handling and ability to finish at the rim in the NBA to unlock the rest of his potential on offense.