NBA Draft: Grading every first-round pick after rookie year

2022 NBA Draft Class. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images
2022 NBA Draft Class. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images /
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NBA Draft
Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets, Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Houston Rockets – Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn

Jabari Smith Jr. was on track to go first overall according to many draft prognosticators, even as late into the process as the day of the draft itself. When the Magic made a sudden pivot, however, that dropped Smith down to third overall, where he was drafted by the Houston Rockets.

Playing on a team with shaky guard play and no defensive strength, Smith had a shaky start to his career. As the season went on, however, his shot started to fall and he played a much tighter game on each end. The Jabari Smith of the last two months looked light-years different than the one who played in October and November.

Smith would likely drop in a redraft, as even with a more efficient showing down the stretch he wasn’t exactly a superstar. How much of that was his environment? That’s a good question that should be answered in part this season as Houston upgrades its talent and with a new head coach in Ime Udoka.

Grade: C+