This season’s NBA Rookie of the Year race became a two-horse race pretty quickly. Right off rip, one of the potentially most dangerous contenders for the prestigious award had to drop out when the Oklahoma City Thunder’s second-overall pick in former Gonzaga Bulldog Chet Holmgren was ruled out for the entirety of the 2022-2023 season with a Lisfranc injury.
While there were still numerous highly skilled prospects left, many of which seemed to get drafted to a good situation to put up eye-popping numbers early on, three of the rookies separated themselves from the pack swiftly.
The Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero, first-overall pick in the draft out of Duke University, and the Indiana Pacers’s Bennedict Mathurin, sixth-overall pick out of the University of Arizona, established themselves as the top dogs out of their class within the first third of the season.
Both were thrust into high-usage roles and their athleticism and advanced skills translated into admirable success in their new foray into professional basketball.
|Jabari Smith Jr Last Five Games||Scores|
|vs||W 114 -110||vs||W 111-109|
|vs||L 134-125 OT|
On the other hand, third-overall pick Jabari Smith Jr., who was selected out of Auburn University by the Houston Rockets, withdrew from the pack for an entirely different reason.
Playing for a roster that was comprised almost entirely of unproven young players and for a coach with minimal experience, Smith Jr. struggled out of the gates. Throughout the season, his usage and minutes fluctuated drastically.
Playing under an offense run by an off-ball wing turned de facto point guard in Kevin Porter Jr. didn’t help matters either.
For nearly three-quarters of the season, Smith Jr. failed to find his niche in the offense and tried to advantage of spots that weren’t really there, leading to some historically atrocious shooting numbers, even for a rookie.
He started to turn things around, though, in mid-March, putting up three straight games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
With that increased output also came a massive bump in efficiency. Against the Pacers, he put up 30 points and 12 rebounds on 53 percent shooting. Against the Chicago Bulls, he dropped 20 points and 10 rebounds on 57 percent marks.
And most recently, he got to 24 points and 11 rebounds on an absurd 9-11 shooting in an upset victory over the Boston Celtics.
While it’s probably too late for Jabari Smith Jr. to catch up to Banchero, Mathurin, or even Jalen Williams, who’s had a fantastic second-half of the season, for the Rookie of the Year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him wind up on one of the All-Rookie Teams come season’s end.
Rockets vs Pelicans Betting Consensus
Pelicans vs. Rockets total o228 -110 being hammered by 64.5% of the betting public
Career high 3⃣0⃣ points for #Rockets Jabari Smith Jr tonight against the Pacers
Including a 3⃣-pointer to send the game to OT@jabarismithjr met with the media after the game@HoustonRockets pic.twitter.com/NCPGX3MvIv
— AT&T SportsNet™ | SW (@ATTSportsNetSW) March 10, 2023
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| Title: The Houston Rockets 3rd-overall pick Jabari Smith Jr. is figuring it out
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: Mar 17, 2023