Before the 2022 NBA Draft, Rockets fans all over the world were engaged in the argument in the significance of having the third overall pick.
Out of all the arguments that took place, the one that stood out was if they should select Jabari Smith — the number one consensus pick at the time — if he had slipped to pick three.
Now some people’s feeling on the matter was, “Hey, Houston is in the position to select one of three seven-foot demigods build out of NBA 2K, beggars can’t be choosers.”
Some said, “Well, Paulo Banchero is the better prospect due to his overall skillset, so the Rockets should trade up.”
Others said, “Houston has no point guard, they should just trade down for Jaden Ivey.”
When the draft arrived, the Orlando Magic stunned the world and picked Banchero.
Rockets fans were shocked about result of the draft, as many fans settled in to the idea of seeing Banchero in a red and white jersey. All the reports corroborated those thoughts too.
So much so, that even national media beat writers were asking questions to Paolo on draft day about his fit with Houston, while Smith never even bothered giving the Rockets a workout, only to find out, that that both Jabari Smith and the Houston Rockets will be couple from now on.
Fast forward to the present, uncertainty has turned into optimism.
Unless you’ve been banished to the shadow realm, Jabari Smith made slight work of the NBA Summer League.
Jabari Smith easily would’ve won Summer League MVP and led the Rockets to the championship if they let him play the entire summer. https://t.co/VFwWyXAtEV— ᵂᴵᴸᴸ (@BiasedHouston) July 14, 2023
In the two games Smith played, he averaged 36/7/4 on 49 percent shooting from the field. In the NBA Summer League, he impressed everyone with his ability to be able to create his own shots, attack closeouts and operate in the post.
He even had a game winner too!
The 6’10” forward out of Auburn was so good that the Rockets brass decided to place him in bubblewrap and take him out the summer showcase. Despite him cooking in the summer exhibition, this what both fans and Jabari needed to move forward.
Jabari admitted that his rookie campaign of 13/7/1 on 41 percent shooting wasn’t good enough, saying he needed “more reps.”
Fans would agree on this sentiment, members of Red Nation wanted to see him display a more dominant presence on the court. This is within good reason, too many times on offense, the sharpshooting looked timid on the court.
Most of Jabari’s touches were the typical looks you’ll get in pick up when your playing with candors, spot-Ups and transition opportunities. So now the question is because of the lack of opportunities or lack of confidence. I think it maybe a bit of both.
However, if Summer League was any indicator of what's to come, I think he’ll be able to take the momentum from his play in Las Vegas and use it to his advantage next season.