Film Room: What makes Jabari Smith the 'complete package' on offense
Is he a sharpshooting guard who does 6-foot-10 big man stuff or a 6-foot-10 big man who does sharpshooting guard stuff? Either way, he's a problem.
PF Jabari Smith (Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
In the fifth game of his college basketball career, Jabari Smith missed just two shots.
He hit seven — all from 2-point range — to give him 14 points in Auburn’s 62-53 win over Loyola Chicago on Thanksgiving Day. Smith was incredibly efficient against a Ramblers team that boasted one of the most feared defensive systems in the country for several years running.
Loyola didn’t have the size or the strength to match up with the 6-foot-10 freshman phenom who was called a “dark horse” for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft during the Tigers’ trip to the Bahamas.
“We rolled him down in there and we posted him up,” Bruce Pearl said after the Loyola win. “We haven’t done that a ton. But he went down there, he sat down and he took tough catches. He had a nice rhythm to his game, he scored through some contact, he was strong with the ball, he didn’t turn it over.
“And so, when you add that inside aspect to his offense along with the perimeter offense — now all of a sudden, he’s the complete package.”
Pearl was right. There’s no better way to describe Smith on offense than “the complete package.” He’s one of the tallest players on the floor every single night, yet he is comfortable handling the ball and attacking off the dribble.
Then there’s the shooting. Through eight games, the Loyola win was the only matchup in which Smith didn’t hit multiple 3-pointers. (He only attempted one, as Auburn pounded the ball inside repeatedly.)
On a team with plenty of scoring weapons, Smith is Auburn’s best shooter. His True Shooting percentage is 60.5%, which ranks tops on the Tigers and seventh in the SEC. Only Jaylin Williams and Dylan Cardwell — two primarily paint scorers who come off the bench — have better effective field goal percentages than Smith’s 55.8%.
Smith ranks third in the SEC in points per game (16.3), sixth in offensive rating (124.5), sixth in usage (27.2%), third in PER (29.5), fourth in offensive win shares (1.0), second in offensive box plus/minus (8.3) and third in overall points produced (122). And those numbers are coming against a schedule so far that, according to KenPom, ranks No. 2 in the SEC behind Alabama.
His ability to rebound at a high level — tops on the team and fifth in the SEC on the defensive glass — and be a versatile, disruptive defender have only increased his stock through the first few weeks of his freshman season.
But offense is where Smith is shining the brightest. As a “fourth guard” in a Pearl system that is comfortable letting power forwards make plays out on the perimeter, Smith puts up numbers normally reserved for smaller wings or guards. And he does all of the offensive stuff that 6-foot-10 players should do, too.