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Jalen Green offers advice to top Rockets rookie Jabari Smith Jr.

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After being taken at No. 2 overall in the 2021 NBA draft, Rockets guard Jalen Green had a number of ups and downs in his pressure-packed rookie campaign. He finished the season with a historic scoring binge and a spot on the All-Rookie First Team, but there were lowlights, too.

Thus, Green has some useful perspective for Houston’s newest top rookie, Jabari Smith Jr., who was picked at No. 3 in the 2022 first round.

Early in the league’s 2022 summer league in Las Vegas, Smith has shown tremendous upside as a defender, but his shooting — projected as a primary strength in pre-draft scouting reports — has yet to come around. During Saturday’s ESPN broadcast, Green was asked about potential advice for Smith, and he offered these candid remarks:

Be yourself. Don’t try to force nothing. Don’t try to play out of character. Everyone wants you here to play your best basketball. … Don’t think about what’s going to happen, or what people are going to say. Just stay locked in, and be yourself.

It’s the beginning. We’ve got a long season. I know these lights are bright, right now, but they get even brighter. So just be in the moment, and be yourself.

To this point, it feels like Smith is heeding that advice. Despite starting 2-of-14 as a shooter on Saturday, Smith connected on three of his final five shots late in a close game, and he was clearly the best player on the court in the closing five minutes as Houston rallied to its first victory. Rather than succumb to the pressure, Smith stayed the course, and his shots (including a key 3-pointer and fadeaway jumper) eventually fell.

Smith and the Rockets will look to continue that momentum throughout this week in Las Vegas, with games set for Monday night versus San Antonio and Thursday night versus Portland (TV schedule).

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