HOUSTON (AP) — After falling to the third overall pick by the Houston Rockets after most projected him to go No. 1 in the NBA draft, Jabari Smith Jr. wasn’t worried about the two teams that didn’t pick him. He was looking ahead to how he’ll help the one that did.
“Ultimately I just want to win championships and be labeled as a winner, always deep in the playoffs, somebody always competing for championships,” Smith said. “That’s what I want to be.”
Rockets general manager Rafael Stone was thrilled that Smith was still available when their slot came up.
“It was huge,” he said. “It made my night. We think he’s a super important piece of the puzzle.”
Orlando took Paolo Banchero first and Oklahoma City chose Chet Holmgren at No. 2 on Thursday night before Houston selected the Auburn freshman, adding a skilled player to join last year’s second pick Jalen Green as the team continues its rebuild.
“I’m just going to bring competitive edge,” Smith said. “My shooting ability, my ability to score, ability to guard multiple positions, and just my will to win… I’m a team player, so that’s what they’re getting.”
Stone raved about the shooting skills of the 6-foot-10 Smith.
“I think he’s probably the best shooter in the draft,” he said. “At his height that’s extraordinarily unusual. So we’re beyond excited to have Jabari.”
Smith was one of three first-round picks the Rockets had in this year’s draft. Houston added LSU forward Tari Eason with the 17th pick, which the team received as part of the trade for James Harden, and the 26th pick of the Dallas Mavericks once the trade for center Christian Wood is official.
Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr. was taken with the 26th pick and ESPN reported that he was traded to Minnesota for the 29th pick…