A popular choice to become the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets likely couldn’t believe their eyes when Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. dropped to their selection at No. 3. Houston quickly made Smith their top choice in Thursday’s draft, giving them yet another dangerous scorer to pair with last season’s top pick Jalen Green.
Smith was a consensus top-three pick, and many had him as the betting favorite for the No. 1 pick leading up to the draft, but why? What makes Smith an easy pick for the Rockets at No. 3?
Jabari Smith can fill Christian Woods’ shoes
Even as a rookie, Jabari Smith can prove to be an effective scorer, much like Christian Wood was with the Rockets over the past few years. Like Wood, Smith can score from anywhere on the court, though he’s a much more proficient shooter. After averaging 2.3 three-point makes per game, shooting 42% from distance in 34 games at Auburn, Smith is ready to go off in the NBA.
Some have even thrown the Kevin Durant comparison out there, which is an exciting thought, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves comparing this rookie to an all-time great. But the 19-year-old does have a wicked ability as a catch-and-shooter.
He doesn’t have to live up to Durant’s game, he just has to be Jabari Smith. The Rockets now have Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Jabari Smith, all 20 years old or younger. This is a team with a bright future.
Related: 2022 NBA Draft tracker: Grading each pick and trade