Jarace Walker reminded me of Zion Williamson as a college player. Not for his potential or playstyle, but because of his size and athleticism. He just looked like a man amongst boys out there. Walker is a 6’8” forward who jumped off the screen at times during his freshman year at the University of Houston. Of all prospects not currently projected in the top 5, I think Walker has the most home run potential.
Weight: 240 lbs.
Per Game: 11.2 PTS, 6.8 REB, 1.8 AST, 1.0 STL, 1.3 BLK
Per 40 Minutes: 16.3 PTS, 9.9 REB, 2.6 AST, 1.4 STL, 1.9 BLK
Shooting Splits: 46.5% FG / 34.7% 3P / 66.3% FT
Advanced Stats: 53.4 TS%, 8.8 BPM, .211 WS/40
Jarace Walker is a huge forward oozing with natural athletic ability. There are a lot of athletic freaks in this draft, but Walker is among the freakiest. He’s got a football player’s frame while still possessing elite basketball quickness and verticality. He’s explosive and has the wingspan that will terrify his matchup each time he steps on the court. That type of size and versatility is what makes him a 5-star prospect.
His absolute greatest strength coming into the league will be his defense. He projects to be not only the best defender in this class, but could become one of the best defenders at the NBA level. His size and agility will likely allow him to guard effectively 1-5. Don’t be surprised if he’s tasked with the other teams best player more often than not. He’s a perfect modern 4 or small ball 5.
Offensively, Walker is a good interior finisher who can also stretch the floor a little bit when needed. Because of his versatile size and athleticism, he is able to punish switches either way. He can blow by bigger, slower bigs while his strength allows him to bully smaller matchups. I wouldn’t say he’s elite at any one thing on offense, but the potential is there for him to mold into any role you need. And with his work ethic, I wouldn’t put much of a ceiling on this kid.
Some comparisons I’ve seen for Walker are Shawn Marion, Paul Millsap, Jerami Grant, and Julius Randle.
As is a theme with this draft, Walker will need to develop as a shooter if he wants to be a star in the NBA. The fact that his free throw shooting is fairly poor could cause some to not believe in his long term shooting ability.
While this might be a little nit-picky for a guy this big, his handles need tightening. Improving his handle would really open up his playmaking and shot creation at the next level.
He will also likely need time to adjust to the NBA speed with his reads as a play maker. Sometimes his decision making leads to sloppy turnovers. He’s not as refined as a prospect as others in his range, but the potential is there.
Like a glove. A frontcourt of Lauri Markkanen, Jarace Walker, and Walker Kessler would be a ridiculous foundation moving forward. If you believe in his shooting prospects, then he might be the #2 player in the draft for the Utah Jazz. He’d allow Markkanen to maintain positional size at the 3 while providing an elite switchable defender to go alongside Kessler’s rim protection. Add in Ochai Agbaji as a 3-and-D wing and you’re a really good point guard away from an extremely fun and high-potential team.
How could Utah get him?
Lottery night luck. Once the draft actually rolls around, I expect Walker to be a consensus top 5 pick. Where the Jazz are currently slated to pick 9th, they’d need the ping pong balls to bounce in their favor if they wanted a shot at him. That or dip into their crazy war chest of draft assets to move up, which I could see Danny Ainge doing. He has a propensity for getting the guy he wants. Will Jarace Walker be on his short list?