Jabari Smith lived up to his top 5 recruit status, earning All-American honors and being the SEC Rookie of the Year on a strong Auburn team. As a freshman, Smith averaged 17 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1 BPG, and 1.9 TOPG on shooting splits of 43/42/80. Below is his full scouting report:
Name: Jabari Smith
Wingspan/ standing reach: N/A
Hand size: N/A
Pre-Draft team: Auburn
Tools: Shooting, defense
- Reliable jump shot
- Great size with long strides as a slasher
- Outstanding creation ability
- Comfortable with both hands
- Strong iso ability
- Good rebounder
- Plus spin move into jumper
- Can shoot over defenders with ease
- No dip in his shot allows for a quick release on his jumper
- Hits shots at any angle off-balance
- Active hands on D
- Elite at trailer 3s
- Can dribble into his jumpers with both hands
- Can see the floor well over defenders
- Needs to get more space on stepback jumper
- Doesn’t always get a ton of lift on drives
- Can panic against surprise pressure
- Needs to tighten his handle
Jabari Smith is an elite shooter with great size, and excellent defensive ability. When drawing up what the perfect 3&D forward looks like, Jabari Smith almost perfectly fits the mold, but has more upside to grow out of solely a shooter and defender.
Offensively, Smith’s jumper is entirely projectable, and should continue to improve as he matures. He should enter the league as one of the best young shooters in the NBA, and by the time his rookie contract is up, it would be surprising not to mention him in the same breath as the best shooters in the league. He has no dip in his release on his jumper, a perfectly clean release between his shooting hand and guide hand, great touch, and an unblockable release that allows him to shoot over any defender. These traits help him project as an elite shooting prospect.
Filling in the rest of his offense will be key to Smith’s upside being unlocked. He needs to get better at both creating space and finishing consistently in traffic at the rim. Oftentimes, Smith settles for jumpers on simple 1 or 2 dribble drives, but in the NBA that discourages mid range attempts, he will need to learn how to finish at the rim against rim protectors or help-side defenders. As a perimeter creator, he needs to become more composed against pressure, which will likely come with an improved handle. While he can see the floor well at all times, especially out of double teams, Smith still panics when he is dribbling at tight defenses coming for the ball. If he can add an escape package, this should help him develop his overall handle and shot-creation package to unlock a new level of shot creation.
While Smith has only average recovery ability on defense, he checks just about every other box on the defensive end, and is one of the few players that can afford an average recovery ability. Normally, that is a key trait for elite defenders, but with Smith’s size, active hands, and IQ, he can neutralize his recovery ability shortcomings rather easily. Smith’s defense is effortless, and when he gets the first move on defense, he almost always wins. When Smith is not contesting shots at any spot on the floor, he is using his active hands to manipulate and change the ball-handler’s path to creating a scoring opportunity. With Smith’s versatility, he projects to be a safely positive player on the defensive end, whether it be a help-side rim protector or perimeter defender.
Overall, Smith projects well on both ends, but will need to improve his ball-handling and finishing at the rim in order to become more than a 3&D forward. At the least, a 6’10 3&D forward is an elite role player, so whichever team drafts him will have an immediate high-level role player starter in their rotation.
Similar to: Rashard Lewis, bigger Klay Thompson (not the elite+ shooter Klay is), smaller Kristaps Porzingis
Projected draft range: 1-5
Expected role: Two-way forward that can play just about any position on defense, and be an elite off-ball threat with growth as an on-ball scorer and creator.
Unplayable if: Almost impossible Jabari Smith becomes unplayable, due to elite shooting and defense plus size at his age. His worst case scenario is being a simple 3&D forward with no on-ball NBA development.
Exceeds expectations if: On-ball skills develop as a creator. Whether it be stepback jumpers or slashing, developing a sense of self-creation will allow Jabari Smith to reach stardom.