HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets ended the 2022 NBA Draft with a trio of young talent who can establish themselves as cornerstone players, and at the top of the class is Auburn's Jabari Smith Jr.
The Rockets drafted Smith with the third pick of the night after missing out on Duke's Paolo Banchero on Thursday. The Orlando Magic interfered with Houston's draft plans due to the selection of Banchero. But calling an audible to land Smith was a significant contingency plan for the Rockets.
By shifting their attention to Smith at No. 3, is it fair to say the Rockets acquired the best player in the draft?
Smith is joining the Rockets after an impressive freshman campaign with the Auburn Tigers during the 2021-22 NCAA season. He averaged 16.9 points while shooting 43.0 percent from the field and 42.0 percent from behind the arc.
The Tigers went 28-6 (15-2 SEC) during the regular season and entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest bracket. Auburn's post-season run came to an end following a 79-61 defeat to the Miami Hurricanes in the second round.
Smith averaged 15.0 points and 14.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks during Auburn's March Madness appearance.
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