Marquis Daniels compares Rockets Jabari Smith Jr. with former NBA player

HOUSTON — Auburn player development coach Marquis Daniels has seen a plethora of basketball talent over the past three decades and may be an expert at analyzing the great modern man.

Daniels, who played 14 years in the NBA, began his career alongside Dirk Nowitzki as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. He later became Kevin Garnett’s teammate during his three-year stint with the Boston Celtics.

Daniels’ experiences with Garnett and Nowitzki paid off as he worked with Houston Rockets rookie sensation Jabari Smith Jr. during his only stint at Auburn University.

Smith’s skill at both ends of the court made him a unique prospect. But there’s one former NBA player Daniels couldn’t help but compare to when analyzing the Houston rookie.

“I saw him as an athletic Rashard Lewis,” Daniels said during his exclusive interview with Inside the Rockets. “Rashard had that high pitch and kicked the ball well. I see Jabari the same way, if you put someone really small on top of him, he can kick right over them.”

If Smith becomes a player of Lewis’ caliber, the Rockets will have a bright future with the current SEC Rookie of the Year winner.

Lewis was a 17-year veteran who became a two-time NBA All-Star and champion with the Miami Heat. Lewis’ best stint came during the nine seasons he spent playing for the Seattle Supersonics, where he averaged 16.6 points on 46.1% field shooting in 617 career games.

The Supersonics selected Lewis in the second round (#32 overall) of the 1998 NBA Draft from Alief Elsik High School in Houston.

“Rashard was a problem in his Seattle days,” Daniels said. “I see Jabari the same way. But I think Jabari’s engine might be louder. He’ll defend all the time. He’ll get to the basket. And he can dunk you. Jabari is a more athletic version of Rashard. Lewis.”

The Rockets will hold their annual Media Day on Monday, September 26th. The team will begin training on September 27 at the Legacy Center in Lake Charles.

You can follow Coty Davis on Twitter @CotyDavis_24

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