Prospect Draft Profile: Jabari Smith Jr.

Thursday night, the Warriors knocked off the Celtics 103-90 to win the NBA Finals. With the season now officially over, the next major event on the basketball calendar is the NBA Draft. With the draft coming very soon, on June 23rd, it’s time to start taking a look at some of the top prospects. First, we have Jabari Smith Jr.

Smith was a known talent before the 2021 season, but he wasn’t a preseason candidate for the number one pick. Jabari then leaped onto the scene last season, and he’s considered by many to go to Orlando with the first pick. Smith is a tantalizing prospect physically, and his potential is through the roof. Let’s take a look at some of his strengths.

Jabari Smith’s Strengths

One of the most compelling traits that come with Smith is his shooting ability relating to his size. Smith is a big guy, standing at 6’10”. With that size, his shooting touch is remarkable. He has great form and was consistently able to knock down shots at Auburn. There is a legitimate case to be made that Smith is the best shooter in the entire draft class. If a team is looking for a big player that can space the floor, Jabari is that guy.

Jabari Smith can shoot, but he doesn’t back down in the post either. Smith is a very well-rounded player in general. He moves well off the ball as well, setting screens for his teammates and such.

Defense isn’t Jabari’s best game, but it’s impressive nonetheless. He’s able to switch onto guards when a screen is set, which is very important in the modern NBA. His size and wingspan give him an edge against any smaller offensive player, and he’s well-rounded at the very least on defense in general.

Jabaris Smith’s Weaknesses

While Smith is a wonderful shooter, he struggles a bit to find his own shot. At the height of 6’10”, it would always be hard for a player (barring Kevin Durant) to create his own shot of the dribble. Still, if Smith is looked at as the number one option it is something he must improve. Smith isn’t immune to knocking these shots down, though:

As is common for players who struggle to create their own shot, Smith’s ball-handling can be improved too. Jabari likes to push the pace, but at Auburn, he did occasionally lose control of the ball on the fast break. Fortunately, both of these issues are things that can definitely be improved at the NBA level.

Jabari Smith’s NBA Outlook

Jabari Smith is a popular candidate to go as the first overall pick, and it would make a lot of sense. The Magic’s current starting frontcourt consists of Wendell Carter Jr. and Jonathan Isaac. Neither of those two have lived up to their full potential and getting Jabari alongside Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, and Franz Wagner would be a great young lineup.

As for Smith, no matter what team he goes to, he could be looked at as a power forward. In some lineups, he could even see time at small forward. The NBA is a very free-flowing and positionless game nowadays, and due to Smith’s excellent catch-and-shoot skills, he could make sense in one of those positions.

Smith should develop into an all-star, and there is good reason to look at him as a franchise player as well. Jabari is a big, tall guy with very sneaky athleticism. That athleticism allows him to be a force on the defensive end, and he contributes more than enough on offense to warrant the number one selection.

Celtics beat Warriors 116-100, Lead NBA Finals 2-1

@brockhoff55 recaps Game 3 of the NBA Finals ahead of Game 4 tonight. Who will take this one home?

After two dynamic and exciting games to kick off the 2022 NBA finals, the Warriors and Celtics headed across the country to play two more in Boston. Boston took game one, and game two was even until the third quarter Warriors took over. Both of these teams looked pretty even heading into a very important game three.

Game Recap

The Celtics got off to an extremely hot and high-scoring start in this one. Boston put up 33 points in the first quarter while holding Golden State to just 22, good enough for an eleven-point lead after one. Jaylen Brown had over half of the Celtics’ first-quarter points, with 17 of his own.

The second quarter was just as high scoring, except for both teams this time. The Celtics improved off their first quarter with a whopping 35-point second quarter, and the Warriors nearly matched that with a 34-piece of their own. Boston went into halftime with a 68-56 lead.

As always, the Warriors stormed out of the gate in the third quarter, and immediately made it a game, even taking the lead late in the period. The Warriors put up 33 in the third, but the 25-point effort from the Celtics was enough to keep a four-point lead in the fourth.

A combination of a sensational defensive effort from Boston and Stephen Curry exiting early with an injury helped Boston to a 16-point win, and the series lead. The second half was much more back-and-forth than the first, but excellent games from Tatum, Brown, and Smart helped the Celtics hold on to win. Boston now leads the NBA Finals two games to one.

Stat Leaders

Speaking of those three, they collectively made NBA history. Tatum, Brown and Smart were the first three teammates with 24+ points, 5+ rebounds, and 5+ assists in an NBA finals game since 1984. Those three also combined for 77 points altogether.

Aside from scoring, Celtics’ center Robert Williams was exceptional. Williams had 10 rebounds, four blocks, and three steals. Steph led the Warriors with 31 points, and Klay Thompson had 25 of his own. Draymond Green really struggled during this game, scoring just two points and fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Neither team shot terribly well, with the Warriors shooting at a 38% clip, compared to 37% for Boston. Boston’s real advantage came on the glass, outrebounding Golden State 47-31.

Highlights

What’s Next?

The Celtics lead the NBA Finals 2-1, and they’ll look to make it 3-1 on Friday night. That game will take place at 9:00pm eastern time on Friday night, on ABC.

2022 NBA Finals Series Update

The basketball world was greatly anticipating this Warriors vs. Celtics Finals matchup, and so far the series has completely delivered. Boston took care of business in Game 1, stealing a necessary game on the road. Golden State responded accordingly with an emphatic Game 2 victory. What do the first two games tell us about what to expect from Game 3 on Wednesday? Here is your NBA Finals update ahead of Game 3.

Game 1

The key takeaways from Game 1 were that the Celtics are extremely tough mentally, and if you leave their guys open they can make shots. The Celtics weathered a shooting barrage from Stephen Curry in the first quarter in which he set an NBA Finals record for three-point shots made in a single quarter with six made 3s.

Steph doing this is 6 times in a quarter is enough to break the spirit of most teams.

Despite that, Boston found themselves down by only 4 at the end of the first quarter. They held the Warriors to only 22 points in the second quarter and entered halftime with a two-point lead.

Even the great Celtics defense couldn’t stop a vintage Golden State 3rd quarter in which they outscored Boston by 14 points. Boston showed that mental toughness again by keeping level heads. They were rewarded with a very impressive 4th quarter in which they hit nine three-point shots and outscored the Warriors by 24 points. Even though it was a quiet shooting night for Jayson Tatum, the Celtics’ run in the 4th was sparked by a couple of great plays from Jaylen Brown.

These two plays from Jaylen Brown came at a pivotal moment in Game 1 and completely swung the momentum towards the Boston Celtics.

Game 2

Game 2 showed us that the Golden State Warriors are exactly who we thought they were. They came out with the fire you would expect from former champions. They set the tone early and came away with a resounding victory.

This was a vintage Draymond Green game. His line for the night – 9 PTS, 7 AST, 5 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK. He set the tone physically and emotionally for the Warriors as well. He picked up a technical foul after getting chippy with Grant Williams early. Some argue that he should have picked up a second after some extracurricular activity with Jaylen Brown later in the game.

The Warriors’ attitude was completely different in Game 2. In the first game, we got Steph Curry high-fiving and smiling after his brilliant first quarter, in this game it was all business. Fun and games Steph was not in the building – he was clinical and he delivered two fantastic shots in the 3rd quarter that were the death blow to the Celtics’ comeback chances in the game.

When Steph is hitting shots like this 30 footer you can probably just start warming up the bus.

Gary Payton II made his return from injury in this game as well, and he proved his value to this team yet again. Three of the top five plus/minus lineups for the Warriors in this game included Payton II according to PBP Stats.

Game 3 Prediction

Game 3 of this series will take place on Wednesday, June 8th in Boston. The Celtics have not lost two games in a row yet in this year’s playoffs. My prediction is that this streak will not be broken on Wednesday night. Boston’s role players have all played better in front of their home crowd, I expect the juice from the fans in the TD Garden will propel the Celtics to a Game 3 win. However, the Warriors have won 35 road playoff games since 2015 with this core of players (StatMuse), so history tells us not to be shocked if they head into Boston and steal Game 3 on the road.

Three Keys for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals

Tonight, the Golden State Warriors kick off their NBA Finals battle against the Boston Celtics. The series is sure to be a battle for both teams. So let’s take a look at three keys the Warriors must keep in mind if they want to win this series.

1. Limit the turnovers.

Almost every Warriors fan has been talking about this throughout the postseason. Golden State has the second-most turnovers per game in the NBA and the most out of any playoff team. The playoffs haven’t changed anything, as the Warriors still struggle with maintaining possession of the ball.

When facing a defensive-minded team like the Celtics, turnovers can haunt a team. Especially in the finals, easy points for the opposition cannot happen. The Warriors must fix this problem if they want to take down the Celtics.

2. Put their foot on the gas as soon as the game starts.

It’s been well known for a while that the Warriors have played their best basketball in the second half. They’ve received the nickname the “3rd Quarter Warriors” due to their dominant stretches throughout the third quarter since the beginning of the dynasty.

As fun as it is to see Golden State thrive in the second half, they need to do the same thing in the first. In the first quarter, the Warriors rank 17th in points per quarter amongst NBA teams. The only quarter that they consistently fall short, is the first. Boston’s defense is prepared to bite at every missed opportunity in the first, which will probably lead to easy points for the Celtics. If the Warriors get too far behind in the first half, a comeback may be hard to come by.

3. Know where Marcus Smart is at all times.

This one may confuse people, as players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are more valuable to the Celtics. However, Marcus Smart is the best defender and most versatile player on the court. The defensive player of the year can make plays, score buckets, and lock up almost any player in the NBA.

The Celtics’ game plan could have Marcus Smart in many different roles throughout the finals: a shot creator, a playmaker, a facilitator, or all of those. Golden State must know how valuable he is to Boston, and make sure he’s not causing trouble and confusion on the court. If he does, not only will he start making plays, but his teammates will capitalize on his efforts and score at will.

The Warriors have an uphill battle in the finals. If they can capitalize on these three keys, they may be able to bring home their fourth championship in seven years.

What to Watch For in the 2022 NBA Finals

Credit: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

It’s the best time of the year. Maybe your semester is ending, you’re entering the summer, but most importantly, the NBA Finals are here again. It almost feels refreshing to have competitive matchups in recent years after the monotony of the annual Warriors-Cavs showdown. The Warriors are back in the Finals again, but this time they will play the Boston Celtics. This series looks like a fantastic one. Let’s dive right into it.

The Warriors have had nothing short of a dominant run to get here. Golden State easily knocked off the MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in five games. The Warriors then dismantled the Grizzlies in six, and the Mavericks in five.

The Celtics had a much harder route, but found their way here nonetheless. Boston routed Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Nets in a surprisingly dominant four-game sweep. After that, the Celtics have won consecutive seven-game series’ against the defending champion Bucks, and the #1 seeded Heat.

The Star Players

Stephen Curry remains one of the most impressive players in NBA history, and his playoff run has been no different. Curry has averaged nearly 26 PPG in these playoffs, and his splash brother Klay Thompson has 19.8 PPG. Their much younger splash brother, Jordan Poole has 18.4 PPG himself.

Jayson Tatum has proven his stardom to the world throughout these playoffs. Tatum has 27 points per game in the postseason, and he’s done that against the Heat and Bucks; two of the best defensive teams in the league. Tatum has struggled at moments, but he seems like a young star who is figuring out how to put together a championship run of his own.

Jaylen Brown has been impressive as well, with 22.9 PPG. Brown has been a little more inconsistent during these playoffs, but when he’s been on, he’s absolutely dominant. While not star players, Al Horford and Marcus Smart have been huge different makers during the postseason as well.

Key Matchups

The first, and most important matchup of the series will be between the point guards; Marcus Smart and Stephen Curry. We all know how impressive Steph is, but Smart often does go under-appreciated. He is the heart and soul of the elite Celtics’ defense. Their chances of winning the series as a whole will dramatically decrease if Smart is unable to limit Curry in any capacity.

Another important matchup will be Andrew Wiggins and either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown. Depending on different lineups during the game, Wiggins will likely be paired with one of these two. Wiggins’ defense has gotten much better over the past season, and he’s an important cog in the Warriors’ stout defense. He’ll be just as important when he’s forced to defend both of the Celtics’ best players.

Finally, the third matchup to watch will be Draymond Green against Robert Williams, Or Jayson Tatum in a small-ball lineup. Both of these teams can play small-ball, so some funky lineups will be a pretty common occurrence during this series. Green has been the heart and soul of the Warriors over the past half-decade, and he brings a ton of intensity on the defensive and rebounding facets of the game. Whether he’s paired up against Williams or Tatum, that will be important to the Warriors’ success in general.

NBA Finals Preview

This is going to be one hell of a series. The Warriors seem like the best team almost every year, and here they find themselves in the Finals once again. The Celtics have taken an extremely tough path to get here, and find themselves on the biggest stage after it all.

Ultimately, don’t be surprised if this series goes the distance. The Warriors are impossibly tough to beat at home, which makes them an automatic favorite. Boston has shown they shouldn’t be counted out, though, and they’ve shown prolonged periods of dominance against some heavy competition throughout these playoffs.

A good prediction for how the NBA Finals will end? Warriors in seven.