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Rockets' Smith: I knew transition to NBA wouldn't be easy

Ned Dishman / National Basketball Association / Getty

Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr. isn't sweating his early-season struggles.

The rookie, selected No. 3 overall, said he's keeping a cool head to remain confident in his game.

"I mean, I knew it wasn’t gonna be easy," Smith told The Athletic's Kelly Iko. "(It's important to keep) coming into it not putting too much pressure on yourself. Trusting the work, trusting what you learn from your teammates and coaches, and just keep taking it day by day. … Just keep playing the game, having fun."

Smith averaged 11.6 points and 7.2 rebounds over his first 19 contests but struggled to a 35% mark from the field and is shooting 33.6% from 3-point range.

"I know they're gonna fall, so I'm not really gonna trip about it," Smith said.

In his lone season at Auburn, Smith shot 42.9% overall, including 42% from beyond the arc - second in the SEC among players with at least 100 attempts that campaign.

The rookie is improving lately, topping the 20-point mark in back-to-back games for the first time - against the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 20 and the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 25. Smith is also 16-for-40 (40%) from distance over his last five contests.

The rookie is looking to continue his growth alongside a young core that includes second-year guard Jalen Green, fourth-year guard Kevin Porter Jr., and second-year center Alperen Sengun.

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