Houston Rockets pick Auburn’s Jabari Smith No. 3 in 2022 NBA Draft

BROOKLYN, NY – The highest-rated recruit to ever wear an Auburn basketball uniform seemed to be within minutes from becoming the program’s first No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick.

But the draft is rarely that simple, especially in a crowded class of top talent.

Auburn forward Jabari Smith was selected by the Houston Rockets with the third pick of the draft Thursday night, becoming the highest-picked player in Auburn basketball history.

The 19-year-old from Sandy Creek, Georgia, in the Atlanta area was the No. 7 recruit in the 2021 class, and he excelled in his one season at Auburn. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 16.9 points in 28.8 minutes per game on 42% 3-point shooting.

Here is what the Rockets are getting in Smith.

The positives

Auburn Tigers forward Jabari Smith (10) takes the court for warmups during the second round of the 2022 NCAA tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, SC, on Sunday, March 20, 2022.

Combining size and shooting, there’s very little precedent for a prospect entering the NBA already as polished as Smith. He’s the best 3-point shooter at his height to be drafted in the last 20 years. His consistent, fluid form is a sign that his numbers last season weren’t an anomaly.

In catch-and-shoot situations, he receives passes already in a shooting motion. Off the bounce (he prefers to go into his jump shot with one or two dribbles), he rises quickly to an unblockable release point. Auburn often fed him in the pinch post, where he squared up defenders and used one-dribble pull-ups, turnaround jumpers and physical rip-throughs to draw fouls.

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