3 Rockets who could slip into an All-Rookie team selection this year

Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason
Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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Jabari Smith Jr.

We all know about Jabari Smith's early season struggles. He couldn't hit the side of a barn. Couldn't string together more than two dribbles in a row without losing the ball. Looked like he couldn't adjust to the speed and pace of the game. Too little to guard bigs, not fast enough to keep up with guards. He was all-time bad.

Lets ignore that for now and focus on his exciting recent surge of play.

In the month of March, Jabari Smith Jr. is averaging a solid 15.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 1.4 STK (steals + blocks) on a very solid 47.2/36.6/74.4 shooting splits with a 56.5 true shooting percentage.

He's got his confidence back, and his jumper looks refined. His dribble package is even looking tighter, allowing him to flash self-creation tools that Rockets fans didn't think would see so soon.

He's getting to the rim and finishing at a better rate than expected. Jabari has flashed eventual 20-point scorer potential.

As a rookie, his defense has been solid, but he still needs a lot of work and body development.

He still gets bodied by the bigger bigs in the NBA, so it would be imperative to add muscle to his already solid frame to handle some of the contact he'd be playing against down low.

His vertical leaves a lot to be desired. Jabari isn't a quick-twitch athlete who can raise up immediately to contest shots at the rim, and his side-to-side speed is good at best.

I think he still has the potential to be an all-NBA defender but he'll have to likely lean in on his instincts, IQ, footwork, timing, and his great length. He's on the short list of guys who could contest shots from the likes of Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, Paul George, etc. Those larger-than-life wings that can shoot over the top.

Through the ups and downs, Jabari Smith has flashed some excellent tools that the Houston Rockets can work with, and fans are very excited to see how he develops.