The Houston Rockets were in a win-win situation as they were waiting to select their pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. After Duke forward Paolo Banchero was selected with the number one overall pick by the Orlando Magic, the Oklahoma City Thunder took Gonzaga forward Chet Holmgren second and that put the Rockets on the clock.
Houston selected forward Jabari Smith from Auburn University. Most mock drafts had Smith going number one overall to the Magic, but when he didn’t hear his name called it added more fuel to the fire that burns inside of Smith.
“Definitely added a chip, but God makes no mistakes, so I'm happy to be here,” said Smith “I'm happy to be where I'm wanted. I'm happy to get to Houston and just show them, give them what they picked. Just happy to be here.”
The 6-10 forward dominated the SEC leading the Tigers in scoring at 16.9 points a game and hit 42 percent of his attempted three-pointers on the season. Smith was able to help Auburn secure a N0. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but they were ousted in the second round by Miami. He will now join a potent and explosive lineup that consists of Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., and Alperen Sengun.
“Most thing I'm looking forward to is just growing with them over these next few years,” said the NCAA second-team All- American. “Growing with them, trying to win games with them, growing with them. We're all young, all new to the NBA lifestyle, so just learning from them. They're older than me, so just getting in there and ultimately building that relationship with them so it can transfer to the court.
The Georgia native knows that the Rockets are in a rebuilding process. Houston finished with the worst record in the NBA for the second year in a row. But he has his eyes on reaching the postseason along with winning Rookie of the Year in 2022
“I want to make the playoffs,” Smith said during his interview on ESPN. “I want to win games. That is how I was raised. That is just who I am. I want to come in and win games. I know if I come in every day trying to win, then everything else will take care of itself. I look forward to a big year.”