Prospect #2: Jabari Smith F (Auburn)
ESPN Rank 2
If Keegan Murray is a Mercedes Benz, Jabari Smith is a rocketship. Listed at 6’10, Smith is one of the best shooters in college basketball and projects to be an impact defensive player in the NBA.
For the season, he is averaging 17.1 points per game on 42.8% 3-point shooting and 81.6% from the free-throw line. His 2-point shooting, 44.4%, is a bit concerning, but nothing he can’t improve on.
The best comp for Smith is Michael Porter Jr but with less injury risk and better defensive potential. Porter was able to secure a massive contract from the Denver Nuggets, but a big part of that was the near-perfect surrounding offensive talent. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray handled the shot creation duties so Porter could focus on what he does best, shoot and score.
Smith will almost surely be a lethal multi-level scorer, but his raw ball handling and passing chops make it unlikely that he’ll be a true number one option anytime soon. Fortunately, the Rockets already have Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun who can create for themselves and others.
Smith is an awesome prospect and the Rockets are a perfect fit. If the Rockets land the second overall pick and he’s there, then they shouldn’t waste any time taking the best player and fit available.