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Who Drafted Jabari Smith? What is Jabari Smith's Fantasy Value This Season?

jabari smith daily college fantasy basketball CFB DFS picks March Madness

In the weeks leading up to the draft, most experts had the Orlando Magic selecting Jabari Smith number one overall. It felt like the right fit. Orlando had just finished the season dead last in three-point shooting and Smith is a silky smooth 6-10 forward who shot 42% from deep as a freshman at Auburn. What more could you ask for? This was a match made in heaven.

Fast forward to five minutes before the draft and ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Paolo Banchero was now the front-runner to go first. He was correct. Smith had to wait for two whole picks before the Houston Rockets called his name. While that's neither here nor there, landing spots matter a ton when it comes to fantasy hoops.

Let's be real: "falling" to Houston is the best thing that could have happened for Smith's fantasy prospects this season. While both Orlando and Houston are retooling, the two franchises couldn't be any more polar opposite. The Magic are slow and boring while the Rockets are fast-paced and exciting! Smith will now be surrounded by a plethora of young playmakers in Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green, and Alperen Sengun. While we know those three are ascending talents and worthy fantasy options by now, what will Smith's fantasy outlook be in year one?

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Jabari Smith's Fantasy Outlook

As previously mentioned, Smith has two things going for him: his size and his marksmanship from beyond the arc. Standing at 6-10, his stroke is practically impossible to defend. Toss in the fact that he shot 42% from three on 5.5 attempts per game as a freshman at Auburn and you have yourself a bonafide sniper. With Houston playing at an incredibly fast pace (#2 in pace rating last season), Smith will see a heavy amount of volume early on.

Fun fact: Smith is the second 6-10 or taller forward to make at least 100 free throws and 60 3s in a single season at the college level. The other guy is Kevin Durant.

Just take a look at his numbers as a freshman at Auburn: 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.0 blocks on 43%/42%/80% shooting split.

The big question about Smith's fantasy value will hinge on his ability to contribute to other categories outside of offense. We know he's an elite shooter but his production on defense will tell the story. At first glance, 1.0 blocks per game for a 6-10 forward seems a bit underwhelming. That is until you realize he was sharing the paint with fellow Auburn big-man Walker Kessler, who wound up swatting 4.5 shots a night, second in the entire country. While it's certainly possible that Kessler's presence overshadowed Smith's defensive upside, Smith will need to show some juice in the defensive box scores in order to be taken seriously as a worthwhile fantasy contributor in year one.

 

The Bottom Line for Jabari Smith

There's no question that Smith will hold a substantial amount of fantasy value early on. But just how much? His ability to rack up the 3s, grab rebounds, and shoot at an efficient clip from the charity stripe should serve him well. His ability to impact the box score outside of those three categories will be the difference. For comparison, Christian Wood finished as a top-80 guy in per-game value last season on the back of 17.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.9 threes, 1.0 blocks, and a troublesome 62% from the free-throw line. There's no question Smith has the talent to produce similar numbers as a rookie, only with more threes and a better free throw percentage. As a result, I feel comfortable labeling Smith a top-80 guy until further notice, but his value will be greater in points leagues. If, however, he performs better than expected on the defensive end -- his value with only skyrocket. Pun absolutely intended.



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