Jabari Smith Jr ranks fifth for prospects on my 2022 NBA Draft Big Board after dropping an impressive stat line and jaw-dropping highlights in his freshman season at Auburn. The avid college hoop fan got a good look all season long at Smith, who may have the purest jump shot in the draft, despite being 6-foot-10! Check out the rest of this article, where I go more into depth about Smith’s strengths, weaknesses, and NBA player comparison.
Jabari Smith Jr Scouting Report
Jabari Smith Jr helped lead an ultra-talented Auburn Tigers team to a 28-6 record and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament with his silky smooth jump shot, versatile defense, and aggressive rebounding. For his age, Smith’s combination of age, size, strength, athleticism, defense, and shooting make him a surefire NBA starter and potential All-Star in the future.
Weight: 220 lbs
Strengths: Smith might be the best shooter in the draft, and the numbers certainly back up this claim. He shot 42% from behind the arc in his freshman year, which is inexplicably impressive for a power forward. Smith has translatable shooting skills and has no problem hitting shots from anywhere on the floor with or without a hand in his face. His tough shot-making is elite for being just 18 years old (19 on draft night.) Smith’s size is also unique as he stands at 6-foot-10 and has terrific athleticism and functional strength. Additionally, he had eye-popping moments as a defender for Auburn and could guard 3s through 5s at the NBA level after gaining a few years of experience.
Weaknesses: Smith’s difficult shot-making ability covered up a lot of weaknesses this season, including his ability to separate from defenders and truly create for himself off the dribble. In isolation situations, Smith can take one or two dribbles and pull up over defenders but has not proven to be effective in putting the ball on the deck. His lack of dribbling prowess could limit his scoring upside to being a secondary scorer.
Jabari Smith Jr Stats
Jabari Smith Jr NBA Draft Ranking, Team Fit, Landing Spot
Draft Ranking: 5
Team Fit: Since Smith does not command a high usage on the offensive end, he can fit in well on most, if not all, teams. Other players in this draft, such as Jaden Ivey, Shaedon Sharpe, and Paolo Banchero, have fewer “ideal fits” due to the nature of their play; however, Smith truly could blend in well on any team. Orlando needs a primary scorer, and I don’t know that that role fits Smith from a projectability standpoint, so he is better served landing in Oklahoma City, Houston, or Sacramento.
Landing Spot: Jabari Smith was widely considered the No. 1 draft prospect in the 2022 class for a good portion of the college basketball season. However, there are plenty of guys in this year’s draft who have proven to be high-level, franchise-changing players, and a strong team fit could end up outweighing the best available when it’s a team’s turn to draft. I could see Smith going anywhere from first to fourth, but it is virtually impossible for him to drop farther than that.
Jabari Smith Jr NBA Comparison: Jaren Jackson Jr.
One player that has been mentioned as a Jabari Smith Jr comp is Kevin Durant. That comparison does not make much sense to me. Kevin Durant displayed fluidity with the ball in his hand past two or three dribbles in college and many other guard skills. However, Smith projects as an elite catch-and-shoot player with the ability to take one or two dribbles in the half-court to clear a bit of space and shoot over defenders or drive past defenders closing out for a straight line drive. Any idea that Smith could project as a “get-it-and-go” player or a primary or secondary ball-handler is misguided. However, Smith does have a lot of Jaren Jackson Jr in his game and that serves as a much more realistic and accurate comparison. They are both tall, long shooters with strong physical profiles. Additionally, they rebound at a high level and have a knack for scoring. Smith will be a more perimeter-focused Jackson at the NBA level and should be an excellent secondary scorer for many years.
Jabari Smith Jr Highlights
Below is an embedded highlight reel from “The Box And One” of Jabari Smith Jr’s freshman year at Auburn, which was filled with plenty of highlights and jaw-dropping moments. Pay attention to his picture-perfect shooting form, lower body strength, and functional athleticism in these highlights; he should be an NBA starter for a very long time.