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Jabari Smith Jr Scouts Report: Strengths and weaknesses of 2022 NBA draft prospects and player comparison

Ahead of the 2021-2022 collegiate basketball season, the 2022 NBA draft no. 1 pick was a two-man race between Duke’s Paolo Bankero and Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren. Both prospects were considered head and shoulders above the field with a skill set that is far advanced for players of their age and size.

But as the season unfolded, another prospect appeared who played his part in the fight for the top pick in the upcoming NBA draft: Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr.

The 18-year-old freshman captivated scouts with his NBA-fit body, silky shot, and double-sided potential as an all-round guard.

Height 6 feet 10 inches, weight 220 pounds. with a wingspan of over 7 feet, Smith has the physical ability to succeed at the next level.

Here’s a closer look at what makes it such a tantalizing prospect.

DRAFT INTELLIGENCE REPORTS: Chet Holmgren | Paulo Bankero

Jabari Smith Jr. Intelligence Report: Strengths

Let’s start with his throw.

How often could you argue that a 6-foot-10 forward could have the best jumper in his draft class? Lately, Kevin Durant is the only example I can think of (and no, this is not a comparison between Smith and one of the greatest scorers the game has ever seen). As great as Smith may look at times, Duran is in a different echelon.

However, Smith’s smooth shooting motions, high throw and soft touch put him on par with any of his marksman peers.

Give him an inch of free space around the perimeter and he will pull up and instantly make defenders of any size pay.

If he has a mismatch inside, you will see his patience to look up and either jab step or flash with his coordinated footwork to throw right over the top.

I also believe in Smith’s abilities as a screen installer. The NBA guards will unlock his potential as a pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop nightmare—which he didn’t do. ton in Auburn. Pairing Smith with a ball shot can be a devastating choice for your poison combination for a defense to deal with.

Defensively, he is mobile on the perimeter and physically on the inside, making him a candidate for a 3-5 defense, but also conveniently switches to defenders. In today’s NBA that likes to switch, this is a must.

Smith has an average block and steal per game, good intuition and quick hands, even if he doesn’t have much endurance or energy at this end of the floor. His biggest impact as a defender is on the perimeter, where his height and wingspan will suffocate opponents looking to attack and score.

He’s not your typical big player who will sit in the paint and defend the basket, but his defensive IQ and height allow him to challenge shots around the basket. (It’s also worth noting that it wasn’t his job to anchor Auburn’s defense as a rim guard, as the 7-foot Walker Kessler made 4.6 blocks per game, leading the nation among Power 5 schools.)

Jabari Smith Jr. Intelligence Report: Weaknesses

The biggest red flag is the lack of a shot after the rebound, which could potentially be a problem for any team looking at Smith as the No. 1 option in the future.

Most of his jump shots last season were catching and shooting, and he clearly needs to work on a few tricks. Despite the ease of grabbing the rebound and picking up the pace in transition, Smith can sometimes elude him, preventing him from truly scoring or being a threat to play on the open floor.

He still has a lot of room to go, but this shot for his size makes him a dream fit for today’s NBA, even if he never becomes a successful shotmaker.

Smith is a bit of a “teen” and it will be interesting to see if NBA teams see him more as a small forward on the wing or a power forward on the inside, even in today’s increasingly out of position game.

Smith has all the tools of an adaptable forward in the current NBA, which gives him very high potential. The biggest question related to the Auburn star freshman is what is his ceiling? Teams are not looking for rotation figures or even high-level starters at the top of the draft. They’re looking for franchise players and All-Stars.

Comparison of NBA players Jabari Smith Jr.

Averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks per game, Smith filled the stats table at both ends of the floor in his only season at Auburn. When you factor in his 42.0% hit rate in three, it’s easy to see why he worked his way to pole position and first overall.

Smith compared many sharp forwards, from Rashard Lewis to Chris Bosh and Kevin Durant. While I won’t go so far as to compare Smith to Durant, I do think the freshman forward has a hint of Bosch in his game. Lewis was named to two All-Star teams as a forward ahead of his time, while Bosh earned 11 All-Star nods and turned into the prototype of the typical five, stretching the floor and defending the rim.

It’s unfair to saddle anyone with comparisons to Durant. However, if Smith manages to land somewhere between Lewis and Bosch, it’s a great dunk.

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