Rockets' Jabari Smith Jr. takes unnecessary fall in 2022 NBA redraft

Houston Rockets v Cleveland Cavaliers
Houston Rockets v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr. closed the 2022-23 season out on a strong note. The number three pick in last year's draft averaged 15.8 points on 47.2 percent from the field in the final 20 games of the season, giving Rockets fans something to look forward to next season and beyond.

Smith became the youngest player in league history to record three consecutive 20 point-10 rebound games, in addition to becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record 500 rebounds and 100 3-pointers in a single season. Smith boasted a 2022-23 statline of 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and roughly one block per game, flashing the ability to impact the game across several fronts.

But in spite of Smith's promising season, he dropped in The Athletic's Sam Vecenie's 2022 NBA redraft (subscription necessary). Vecenie's top ten selections are below:

1. Paolo Banchero-Orlando Magic
2. Jalen Williams-Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Chet Holmgren-Oklahoma City Thunder
4. Jaden Ivey-Detroit Pistons
5. Shaedon Sharpe-Portland Trail Blazers
6. Jeremy Sochan-San Antonio Spurs
7. Keegan Murray-Sacramento Kings
8. Jabari Smith Jr.-Houston Rockets
9. Walker Kessler-Utah Jazz
10. Bennedict Mathurin-Indiana Pacers

Rockets' Jabari Smith Jr. takes unnecessary fall in 2022 NBA redraft

Let's first acknowledge the fact that Smith is simply too low. His frame, along with his skill set, is quite an uncanny combination, so much that many believe he's destined to be a future All-Star. I'd still say his up-and-down season had more to do with former Rockets coach Stephen Silas not featuring him in the game plan enough or simply not making it a point to ensure he got the necessary touches to get in a rhythm.

In spite of that, it's hard to justify taking Shaedon Sharpe and Jeremy Sochan ahead of him. What's even more perplexing is how low Walker Kessler dropped on this list.

But the biggest issue with the list is the fact that Chet Holmgren went third overall. Granted, Holmgren is undeniably a top-three talent in the draft class, but he missed the entire season, and if the redraft is based on the 2022-23 season, can he really be third overall?

It feels like Smith got penalized for the Rockets' lack of structure. And although that shouldn't be surprising, it's also not fair as it pertains to a redraft.

It's not quite egregious enough to be considered a slight but he should've ranked much higher. Both the Blazers and the Spurs would've selected him over Sharpe and Sochan, if given the chance.

But hopefully Smith Jr. saw this list and will be set out to prove those like Vecenie wrong.