Auburn Tigers forward Jabari Smith Jr. is in the conversation to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on June 23.
Smith impressed throughout his freshman season, rising from a potential top 10 selection to the possible first pick by the Orlando Magic. While many initially expected the Magic to favor towards Gonzaga Bulldogs big man Chet Holmgren, others believe Smith could be their selection.
ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony talked about why he believes Smith could be the first overall selection:
“Jabari projects more to be that kind of centerpiece, focal point.”
Jabari Smith Jr. continues to be viewed as potential first overall selection
Smith has been one of the hottest NBA draft prospects throughout the year. Now it looks as if Smith is finding himself as a serious candidate to go first overall to the Orlando Magic.
While most draft analysts touted Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren as the best overall prospect, plenty have Smith in high regards.
At 6-foot-10 with the ability to be a dangerous weapon from the perimeter, Smith has the tools and two-way upside to turn into a serious asset at the NBA level. His game will need some time to come around, but the 19-year-old forward has some of the highest upside of any prospect in this class.
Many believed Orlando could be intrigued with Holmgren or Duke forward Paolo Banchero. But Smith has the ability to make one of the smoothest transitions to the NBA level.
Smith has also shown the potential to be a versatile defender with quick feet and the motor to compete on every single possession.
At Auburn, Smith averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 42.9%, including 42.0% from 3-point range.
Smith, a consensus second-team All-American, won the Wayman Tisdale Award as the nation’s most outstanding freshman. He was also the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and an All-SEC first-team selection.
Smith’s father played two seasons at LSU before being picked in the second round of the 2000 draft. He played for three NBA franchises in four years, starting just two games. He also played internationally.
The Magic have missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons and eight of 10 overall. Orlando last won a playoff series in 2010, when the team was led by Dwight Howard and reached the Eastern Conference finals.