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The Beginner’s Guide to Jabari Smith Jr.

Boardroom lays out everything you need to know about Jabari Smith Jr., the projected No. 1 pick at this week’s NBA draft.

Newly 19 years old, Jabari Smith Jr. is on top of the world.

The former Auburn standout is projected to be the top pick at the 2022 NBA draft , and rightfully so, with his unique set of skills slightly comparable to Kevin Durant.

Let’s get to know Jabari before draft day.

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Tale of the Tape

Age: 19
Height: 6’10”
Position: SF/PF
Projected draft position: No. 1 overall, via ESPN.
Previous team: Auburn Tigers
Agents: Wallace Prather/ Par-Lay Sports & Entertainment
Career achievements: Consensus second-team All-American (2022), Wayman Tisdale Award (2022), NABC, Freshman of the Year (2022), SEC Freshman of the Year (2022), First-team All-SEC (2022), SEC All-Freshman Team (2022), McDonald’s All-American (2021), Jordan Brand Classic (2021), Nike Hoop Summit (2021), Mr. Georgia Basketball (2021)

NIL Deals and Perks

Jabari committed to Auburn on Oct. 9, 2020. He signed his letter of intent the next month and landed on campus in the summer of 2021, precisely before NIL legislation went into effect on July 1. Along the way, the highly touted player didn’t have any NIL deals, but he does have his own signature collection via the 2 Commas brand.

Player Evaluation

Smith’s body type and smooth pull-up jumper filled college hoop analysts with nostalgia, as his game reminded them of a young Durant. Although he doesn’t have the ball-handling abilities of KD, he can get to any desired spot on the floor with close to no effort, elevate, and sink virtually unblockable shots.

With so much offensive firepower, it’s no wonder why Smith was the SEC’s fourth-leading scorer. A higher placement would have been earned had Auburn’s offense featured more ball screens. Or, if Jabari was featured in more dribble hand-off actions, primarily used at the NBA level.

Smith is one of the most natural scorers in the draft, but he also thrives on the defensive end. Jabari sets the tone with energy, effort, and the athleticism necessary to force his way through screens and dive for loose balls. His length and versatility allow for him to guard multiple positions, which is pivotal in today’s NBA.

Smith may not have the tight ball-handling necessary to get his own shots off at the next level. He’ll also need to pack on the pounds if a team chooses to use him as a rim protector. Nonetheless, expect Jabari to make an instant impact in the league, and fight for Rookie of the Year contention.

College Stats

  • Points per game: 16.9
  • Assists per game: 2.0
  • Rebounds per game: 7.4
  • Field Goal %: 42.9
  • 3-Point %: 42

Smith was 2021’s No. 6 recruit in ESPN’s top 100 class with offer letters from Ole Miss, North Carolina, LSU, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgetown, Florida State, and Auburn. Ultimately, the Georgia native stayed close to home, moving one state over to join the Tigers.

At Auburn, head coach Bruce Pearl called Smith “the best I’ve ever coached.” That’s high praise coming from a man who has coached Tobias Harris, Isaac Okoro, and Davion Mitchell.

Smith Jr. led the Tigers to an SEC championship and became a consensus All-American in the process. With so much upside, selecting Jabari with the No. 1 pick in the draft is a no-brainer for the Orlando Magic.

The 2022 NBA Draft will take place Thursday, June 23, at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center beginning at 7:30 p.m. EST on ESPN. See the full draft order here.

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