The Rockets have selected Auburn forward Jabari Smith with the third overall pick of the 2022 NBA draft.
In 34 games (28.8 MPG) in his lone college season, the 6’10” Smith averaged 16.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.1 SPG and 1.0 BPG. Smith led the Tigers to a 28-6 overall and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, where the team lost in the second round to Miami (FL).
The 19-year-old earned numerous accolades for his standout season, including Consensus All-America Second Team, All-SEC First Team, and SEC Rookie of the Year, among others.
Smith has the ability to make an array of incredibly difficult shots in a variety of ways, including step-backs, fadeaways, pull-up jumpers in transition, and coming off screens. Despite facing frequent double teams, he converted 42% of his three-pointers and 79.9% of his free throws.
Smith is also viewed as an energetic, intense, and “highly versatile defender” who can switch across multiple positions, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. His shot-making prowess and strong defense should fit in nicely with a young Houston squad that struggled mightily to score last season — the Rockets were 26th in the league in offensive rating and 21st in three-point percentage.
Smith falling to No. 3 was unexpected, because for well over a month league insiders had him going No. 1 overall to Orlando.