Second-year star Jabari Smith Jr. made huge strides in his offensive development, something he gives 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant a lot of credit for.
The two spent part of the offseason working out together. Smith served as a defender against Durant — a difficult task. And KD made sure not to take it easy on the 20-year-old as he looks to master his sophomore campaign.
The Houston Rockets star talked about what it was like to work and learn from someone on KD’s caliber.
“Shooting the same shot every time,” Smith said of Durant in an interview with Sportskeeda per Mark Medina. “If you see him shoot, every shot is the same. If you see how precise all of his movements are, he’s like a robot. Everything looks the same. So, I tried to mimic that.”
In Jabari Smith’s latest run, he was the primary defender on Kevin Durant.
It’s Kevin Durant in open runs, so of course KD gave Jabari buckets.
But you love to see the will and desire to guard a player of KD’s caliber by Jabari. He’s going to be a special defender as he grows. pic.twitter.com/erfIcR3vzP
— ᵂᴵᴸᴸ (@BiasedHouston) August 18, 2023
Durant’s approach on the offensive side shows off his abilities to be efficient. He utilizes the post cut in order to attempt to bring the defender down to quickly, and efficiently, make his shot.
Part of that robotic way that Smith referenced has Durant paying attention to the details in his approach.
That’s certainly something to benefit the two.
And while they met through mutual connections, the two were actually compared to one another as Smith headed into the 2022 NBA Draft. Before he became the third overall pick.
Durant’s college coach, Rick Barnes, watched him during his time in Texas during the 2006-07 season.
“I mean, Kevin Durant, we had a team where six out of the top seven were freshmen, and he played 36 minutes for a reason,” Barnes said, per Simon Gobbs of On3 in February of 2022, while Smith was still in college. “He averaged 26 points a game. It’s hard not to give him the ball because it’s not like they’re selfish players. You know they’ll make the right read if they get double teamed and pass the ball. The fact is, we were switching a few times down there [while trying to contain Smith].”