Our sister publication, HoopsHype, is continuing its rankings of the five primary position groups across the NBA entering the 2022-23 season, as voted upon by their team of writers and editors.
On Monday, HoopsHype revealed its aggregated list of best power forwards, which is where recently drafted rookie Jabari Smith Jr. — the No. 3 overall pick in the first round of the 2022 class — is expected to begin his career with the Houston Rockets.
At the moment, the athletic 19-year-old checks in at No. 22 on that league-wide list. Here’s the explanation from Frank Urbina:
The second top-four 2022 NBA draftee in our ranking so far, Jabari Smith should thrive right away as a first-year player, but likely moreso on the defensive end than offensively.
Smith is ready to contribute at a solid level everywhere besides offensively as a rookie, though his shooting marks should improve (from summer league) considering his solid jump-shooting stroke and the more-open looks he’ll get playing off of Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green.
Still, Smith’s knocks as a prospect revolved around his playmaking (he gets tunnel vision and likes to attack one-on-one) and propensity for needing to take difficult shots to score at the college level, characteristics that will likely get exposed in his first season as a pro.
Regardless, Smith has special potential as a point-stopper, both individually and as a help defender, thanks to his quick feet, intensity, length and instincts, and that should allow him to thrive on the less glamorous end of the floor right away.
For comparative purposes to other listed players in his range, Smith is ranked just ahead of Dorian Finney-Smith of the Mavericks, Lauri Markkanen of the Cavaliers, and fellow rookie Keegan Murray of the Kings. Smith came in narrowly behind Wendell Carter of the Magic, Cam Johnson of the Suns, and Aaron Gordon of the Nuggets.
The Rockets did not have any representatives on HoopsHype’s top-25 lists for point guards and small forwards entering the 2022-23 season, while second-year prospect Jalen Green checked in at No. 15 among shooting guards. The center list, which could feature sophomore big Alperen Sengun, has yet to be released. Stay tuned!