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Jarace Walker 2023 NBA Draft Scouting Report

Jarace Walker Scouting Report

Jarace Walker Scouting Report
Photo Credit: Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Jarace Walker 2023 NBA Draft Scouting Report

Jarace Walker Scouting Profile:

  • Height/Weight/Age: 6’7″/249 lbs/19 years old
  • Primary Position: Power Forward
  • Freshman Season Stats: 11.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 46.5% FG, 34.7% 3P, 66.3 FT%, 1.0 SPG, 1.3 BPG, 1.5 TOPG

Strengths: Athleticism, Defense, Playmaking

The area where I think Walker will shine the brightest immediately is as a defender. With his 7-foot-3 wingspan and a 38-inch vertical, he can be a great help-side rim protector at the four.

In smaller line-ups as an undersized five, he can be a smart pick-and-roll defender and defensive anchor.

And in the switch-heavy modern NBA, Walker will also be a capable point-of-attack and off-ball perimeter defender.

Walker can be effective in virtually every role on defense and is a defensive playmaker, where he averaged over a steal and a block per game last season.

Finally, Walker is a developed playmaker for a guy his size. He’s shown an ability to handle in space, pass out of the short roll and be utilized in many ways offensively. Houston routinely used Walker as a secondary ball-handler out of pin-downs and dribble hand-offs to open up the floor. With space to operate, Walker also showcased some mid-range and floater touch.

Weaknesses: On-Ball Creation, Shot Selection, Spacing

My primary concern with Jarace Walker’s scouting profile is how he’s limited as an off-ball or screener role as a scorer right now. Walker ranked in the bottom 25th percentile in isolation, roll-man and post-up for points per possession last season.

He also doesn’t have a great handle and can’t break down defenders in isolation right now. So, unless the team that drafts him is running deliberate actions for him, his teammates will likely have to manufacture most of his points. Straight-up scoring might be an initial issue. But, Walker should immediately attack closeouts at a high level, and provide value as a roll-man and pick-and-popper.

Additionally, I’m slightly concerned with Walker’s decision-making on offense regarding shot selection and quality. Walker was a big fan of settling for tough mid-range and post shots in his sole season at Houston. It’s encouraging for his long-term scoring upside that Walker can knock down tough buckets, but you’d like to see a guy his size play through contact and get to the interior more often.

Finally, I’m concerned with Walker is how effectively he’ll be able to space the floor off-ball at the next level. The bulk of Walker’s scoring came off spot-ups, where he averaged 3.7 PPG on 4.3 possessions per game. He can hit tough shots, but Walker was just a 34.7 percent 3-point shooter and a 66.3 percent free-throw shooter last season. Only time will tell how effective he will be as a catch-and-shooter and off-ball scorer.

Best NBA Fit: Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers

As Walker will be primarily utilized as an off-ball scorer right now, he needs to go somewhere with a lead playmaker who can set him up for easy buckets. Ideal fits are at home in Houston with Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green, in Detroit with Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham, or in Indiana with Tyrese Haliburton.

NBA Comparison: Supercharged Julius Randle

Keep in mind that these are long-term and not immediate NBA projections. Jarace Walker provides more immediate and long-term defensive impact than Randle, but I think his offensive ceiling is similar. Both are bulldozers that are most effective in getting downhill to the rim but tend to settle for tough looks.

Obviously, Randle is a better tough shot-maker right now, but both are streaky shooters that can knock down difficult shots. I think Walker is a better athlete who can be a more efficient and winning player in the long run.

Draft Projection: Top-10 Pick

All things considered; Walker is a lock to be a top-10 pick with the potential to go top-5. With his athleticism, defense and youth, few prospects in this draft class offer the immediate two-way value and long-term upside that Walker provides.

How do you think his scouting profile projects to be? Let us know in the comments!

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