Houston Rockets: What the stats, tracking data, and film say about Jabari Smith Jr.’s slow start 

N.B. Lindberg
Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets
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Jabari Smith Jr. is not out of the woods

As I have detailed, it’s safe to believe that Jabari Smith Jr. will turn it around and begin knocking down 3-pointers at a league-average-ish clip. He’s still a little slow getting into his shot, and closeouts that have no chance bother him too much, but these are normal growing pains almost all rookies go through.    

With improved catch and shoot numbers, the rest of Smith’s offensive game should open up, but there are still major concerns about his ability to be more than a one-level scorer. He has been absolutely brutal finishing at the rim, he can’t create his own shot, and his one dribble shooting looks years away from being an effective tool. 

Smith doesn’t need to have handles to be an effective NBA player, but he needs to do more than just catch-and-shoot. If all he develops is a pump and go move, a solid post and fade, and a one dribble into a mid-range jumper, then he’ll have the same offensive skillset as Kristaps Porzingis, minus the rickety knees. 

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When Smith’s threes start falling, the Rockets should waste a few possessions a game where he tries to expand his game. It doesn’t matter if he scores, but for him to reach his full potential as an elite 3-and-D wing-forward, he’s going to need to be more than a 6’10 Reggie Bullock.