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Jabari Smith, Rockets Agree to 4-Year Rookie Contract

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 1, 2022

Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images

The Houston Rockets and rookie forward Jabari Smith Jr. have agreed to a 4-year rookie level contract, the Rockets announced (per Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston).

The consensus All-American averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds during his one season at Auburn, which topped the SEC regular-season standings and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

He joins a young, rebuilding and exciting Rockets team that features seven first-round picks in 2021 and 2022, including Jalen Green, Alperun Sengun, Josh Christopher, Usman Garuba, Tari Eason and TyTy Washington Jr.

Smith was widely expected to go first overall to the Orlando Magic, with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reporting as much in the moments leading up to the draft. However, in a shocking plot twist, the Magic took Duke forward Paolo Banchero instead.

Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren then went No. 2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Smith found a home in Houston at No. 3.

The 19-year-old's fall down the draft board could be a massive win for Houston, though, as they get a player accomplished on both ends of the court.

The pressure isn't on Smith whatsoever to start his career, especially with the Rockets in full-on rebuilding mode. He'll have time to grow and develop his game along with the rest of this young team as they seek greater heights in the coming years.

For now, these are exciting times in Houston, with the team embarking on a new and potentially prosperous era.

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