Rockets rookie Smith most excited to guard Steph, trash talk Dray


Jabari Smith Jr. is new to the league, but he’s already thinking about going head-to-head with some of the NBA’s biggest stars -- including two Warriors veterans. 

The first-round pick was selected No. 3 overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2022 draft and has shown promise so far in the NBA Summer League.

But he recently took a break from the court to sit down with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, who had a couple of important questions for the 19-year-old: Are there any players you’re most excited about talking trash to, and who are you looking forward to defending once the season starts?

While Smith noted there are a lot of trash talkers in the league, there was one who came to mind first.

“The best would probably be -- I would probably say Draymond Green,” Smith told Rooks, then continued, “Ja Morant. I don’t know, everyone talks.”

Green certainly does talk, and the 32-year-old has established himself as one of the most outspoken players in the league when it comes to his antics both on and off the floor. The Golden State forward even went back and forth with Smith’s other choice, Morant, on Twitter recently.

And what about the player Smith is most excited to guard? He’s known as a terrific defender but will have his work cut out for him in the NBA, especially if he’s looking forward to guarding the game’s two best players.

“I would say most excited to defend LeBron [James], and most excited would probably be Steph [Curry]. LeBron and Steph,” Smith answered.

Rooks asked Smith what he thinks a matchup with Curry would look like.

“He’s going to get my best shot, and I’m going to go get his best shot, so we’re going to see how it goes,” Smith said. 

It’s clear the young rookie has admiration for Green, Curry and the rest of the defending champion Warriors, and he told Rooks he believes they “changed the game” with their style of play.

“When you see them play, you see how small they were playing,” Smith said. “You see how many threes they were shooting, and they were winning while doing it. So it’s like, teams are going to go to that. Teams are going to be like, ‘Okay, they won a championship doing it, now let me try.’

“Now teams are all doing it, but just all in different ways. You know, the Warriors changed the game forever. Threes [are] something that’s going to be part of the league forever, and it’s going to keep going up that way.”

RELATED: Bilas confident Kuminga, Moody will take leap for Warriors

Curry and the Warriors changed the way basketball is played, but Smith doesn’t seem to lack any confidence when it comes to competing with them for the West.

He’ll need plenty of that self-assurance this season if he hopes to compete with a trash-talking legend like Green or the greatest shooter of all time in Curry. 

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