Rockets' Jabari Smith on Being Drafted No. 3: 'I'll Use It as a Chip on My Shoulder'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJune 24, 2022

Auburn forward Jabari Smith plays against Jacksonville State during the first half of a college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday, March 18, 2022, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr. was widely expected to go No. 1 overall to the Orlando Magic in the 2022 NBA draft, but he shockingly slipped to the Houston Rockets at No. 3.

Regarding that mini-drop, Smith said that he had a "chip on his shoulder" on draft night.

Alykhan Bijani @Rockets_Insider

Jabari Smith on what about this moment puts a chip on his shoulder: “It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I’m happy to be here. I wouldn’t want to be no where else.” <a href="https://t.co/PI1tfbvSu9">pic.twitter.com/PI1tfbvSu9</a>

He reiterated that stance the next night in a chat with reporters.

ClutchFans @clutchfans

Jabari Smith said he doesn't care if he's picked 3rd or #52. "Of course I'll use it as a chip on my shoulder."

Smith could very well be the best player this draft produces when all is said and done. The consensus All-American starred during his lone season at Auburn, averaging 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.0 block per game.

Scouts and analysts love Smith. Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report compared Smith to Michael Porter Jr. and Jaren Jackson Jr.

Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer wrote Smith is a "hard worker with an unblockable jump shot and elite versatility on defense, making him a safe pick who still possesses star upside."

And John Hollinger of The Athletic had Smith as his top-rated player.

"Smith projects as a knockdown shooter who can space the floor around Jalen Green’s drives, and a big, switchable defender who can cover for some of the team’s other shortcoming at that end," Hollinger wrote in part.

Smith is also in a good spot in Houston to thrive. He's surrounded by a young, uber-talented group of players to grow and develop with, and he'll be leading the team alongside potential fellow star Jalen Green.

The table is set for Smith to use that chip on his shoulder to achieve greatness, and now we'll see where that leads as the Rockets continue their rebuilding process.