Jabari Smith’s first pre-draft workout helps him visualize fit with Magic – The Mercury News

A little after noon on Thursday, Jabari Smith and Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley gave each other a fist bump at the AdventHealth Practice Facility inside Amway Center.

A few seconds later, Mosley, who was speaking with other Magic personnel, patted Smith on his left shoulder and the two shared a smile as Orlando’s chief communications officer Joel Glass led the former Auburn forward to reporters waiting to speak with him after his pre- draft workout.

It remains to be seen whether a form of that encounter will repeat itself. For that to happen, the Magic would need to select Smith with their No. 1 pick in the June 23 NBA draft.

What was clear based on Smith’s post-workout media availability is that the Magic made a good impression.

“Even when I was finishing, the guys were coming up to me and talking to me,” Smith said. “That means a lot to me. They’re not just walking past and treating me like I’m another dude working out.”

Cole Anthony, Jonathan Isaac, Jalen Suggs, Franz and Moe Wagner and Mo Bamba — the latter will be a restricted free agent — were among Magic players who watched Smith before working out themselves.

“Teams usually don’t have half of their teams at home around this time,” Smith said. “That means something. They’re [really] hungry and close. They’re working trying to get to the next level.”

The interactions with Magic personnel — from coaches, players and front office staffers — helped Smith get a greater grasp of how he could fit in Orlando.

“This is a young team, one of the youngest in the league,” he said. “Adding me would just add another young player who’s hungry and got a lot left in the tank. I’ll add some energy and just another person wants to come in and work and get this organization where it needs to be.”

Smith didn’t downplay what Thursday meant to him.

It was the first of his two planned pre-draft workouts. Smith also will work out for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who hold the No. 2 pick in the draft.

The Thunder were the only team Smith interviewed with during the mid-May draft combine in Chicago, with the league deciding which teams speak to which prospects.

“If I said I wasn’t nervous, I’d be lying,” he said. “Coming into it, I was nervous. Everybody talking to me and getting me through it kind of relaxed me a little bit. And then, just have some fun with it. It was my first workout, so the first experience I’ll never forget. It was fun to get out here, push myself and get through it.”

Smith, along with former Duke forward Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren, are considered the top-three prospects in the draft and are expected to draw consideration for the top pick.

Holmgren is expected to work out for the Magic next week, a source confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel.

Smith, who’s listed as 6-foot-10 and 220 pounds with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, averaged 16.9 points (42% on 3s), 7.4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1 block in his lone season with the Tigers .

He sees his defensive versatility and willingness to do “whatever a team needs me to do to impact winning” as what helps him stand out among his draft class.

“I’m the best combination of [shooting and defense],” Smith said. “It’s my will to win that sets me apart. I don’t really care about stats or glamor. I just want to play to win.

“I can come in right away and make an instant impact. My ability to play defense, get the rebound and push it [and] my ability to guard multiple positions separates me.”

Smith, the son of former NBA forward/center Jabari Smith Sr., understands the attention and responsibilities that’d come with being the draft’s top pick.

It’s something he’d welcome.

“It matters a lot,” he said. “With the names who’ve been the No. 1 pick, the expectations and pressure that comes with it, I’m ready for it.”

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at khprice@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.

()

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles