Some exaggerated people describe Jabari Smith Jr. as a 6-foot-10 Ray Allen, not only because of his great shooting physique, but also because of his wingspan + height that is almost beyond the reach of the average defender. In other words, Smith Jr.’s body type has such a level of projection and mechanics, it’s almost a gift from God.
The potential beast from Auburn spent most of his college shots outside the paint, and Smith Jr.’s style of play can be heaven and hell depending on the perspective of different scouts and coaches. Nearly 75% of Smith Jr.’s shots are either from the mid-range or from the 3-point line, and the remaining 25% are in the paint or near the rim.
Smith Jr. shot 42 percent from 3-point range on 188 attempts, and he is particularly good at corner shots, shooting 48.7 percent from the right corner (39 attempts) and 45 percent from the left (60). For many scouts and experts, a team with star players who are good at cutting and fighting in the paint will have Smith Jr. characteristics that will make them salivate. The defensive player must choose which side to pass over. Smith Jr. will have. Plenty of perimeter opportunities, and if the defender throws it, the penalty area will be ripped out.
Another great thing about Smith Jr. is that even when he is confronted by defenders, he is able to make consistent shots from the perimeter and mid-range. Many game videos can see that even if two or three players are paying attention to him, Smith Jr. still shoots decisively, and has a certain level of shooting percentage, and this part of the advantage is also his talent, which allows him to run wild in college.
In the many analysis articles discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Smith Jr., there is a similarity to Brandon Ingram’s pre-league, ability to create mid-range shots.
While Smith Jr. doesn’t have Ingram’s ball-handling and court creativity, his fakes and footwork can take defenders out of their best spots and give him a shot. Smith Jr. is good at holding the ball from the back of the frame and then turning it to the face frame. After one or two dribbles, he gets rid of the opponent and shoots. He shoots 40% from the mid-range and can also attract opponents to foul.
Although Smith Jr. didn’t have a good rim protection in college, he also had 35 blocks in a single season, ranking 11th in the SEC. Smith Jr.’s college classmate Walker Kessler, who also participated in the draft, ranks first in the United States with 155 blocks in a single season, so it can be said that because Kessler guards the restricted area, Smith Jr.’s defensive stats are relatively underwhelming. Smith Jr.’s superb lateral speed and wingspan allow him to move around the paint and stay in front of smaller guys.
More importantly, Smith Jr. is quite enthusiastic and willing to defend, and he does not hesitate to take on the task of defending the opponent’s main ball handler and scorer.
Smith Jr.’s rebounding prowess is also a bit underrated. His 220 defensive rebounds ranked third in the SEC last season, and despite his perimeter-biased play, he also has a sense of sticking to the boards.
In addition to shooting, Smith Jr.’s size and speed are also quite popular in offensive and defensive transitions, but his biggest advantage is the single threat and off-ball movement in positional warfare. In modern basketball, Smith Jr.’s versatility on offense would be his main attraction, which is why his talent is so coveted by top-three teams.
【Contributing Editor Liang Xiaoyuan / Responsible Editor Xie Yiqian】
Reference for compilation of this article: 2022 NBA Draft Film Room Analysis: Jabari Smith Jr.
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