In a recent candid interview with Mark Medina for Sportskeeda, Houston Rockets' promising forward, Jabari Smith, shared insights into his journey and ambitions in the NBA. Amidst discussing various aspects of his career, Smith particularly highlighted his off-season training experiences, notably with NBA superstar Kevin Durant.
Smith's interaction with Durant, a player renowned for his sharpshooting abilities and physical similarities to Smith, was not just a chance encounter but a deliberate effort to hone his skills. Their connection ignited during the popular pick-up games at UCLA in Los Angeles.
"I was in LA for the Rico Hines runs, and I got the opportunity to join Durant and his trainer for a session. It was an eye-opening experience," Smith recounted.
Learning from Durant
This meeting was more than just a brush with fame for Smith; it was an intensive learning experience.
Durant, known for his meticulous approach to the game, left a lasting impression on Smith. "Observing Durant's attention to detail and his rigorous practice regime really showed me the level of dedication and precision required to excel," Smith said.
The aspect of Durant's game that resonated most with Smith was the consistency and uniformity in his shooting technique. "Durant's every shot looks identical, irrespective of his position on the court. He's like a machine in that regard.
I'm trying to emulate that level of consistency," Smith explained. Smith's own season trajectory with the Rockets has been a blend of growth and adaptation. Currently the fifth-leading scorer on the team, he has demonstrated versatility and resilience.
The addition of players like Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks to the Rockets has reshaped the team dynamics, presenting new challenges and opportunities for Smith. Averaging 12.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, Smith's contributions remain pivotal for the Rockets.
Despite being slightly overshadowed by teammate Alperen Sengun, Smith's standout performance against the Sacramento Kings, where he posted 21 points and 11 rebounds, underscores his potential. As Smith continues to evolve in his sophomore season, the influence of Durant's disciplined approach to basketball is evident in his gameplay.
With the combination of his physical prowess and a newfound focus on the finer details of the game, Smith is poised to make significant strides in his NBA career.