Jarace Walker NBA Draft Analysis
Jun 8, 2023, 2:53 PM | Updated: 5:18 pm
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz own three first-round selections in the 2023 NBA draft, and one of the players they’ll consider in June is Houston forward Jarace Walker.
With a top 10 pick, the 16th pick, and the 28th pick in the first round, the Jazz will work out an enormous swath of players projected to be selected throughout the draft.
Let’s look at how lottery pick Jarace Walker performed in his lone season at Houston, and how he’d fit with the Jazz.
Jarace Walker Strengths
Averages: 11.2 ppg | 6.8 RPG | 1.8 APG | 46 FG% | 34 3Pt % | 66 FT%
At just 19 years old, Walker has an NBA-ready body standing just over 6-foot-6, weighing 248 lbs, and sporting an impressive 7-foot-2 wingspan.
Despite his tank-like frame, the Houston freshman has terrific athleticism with quick feet, fast reactions, and a strong motor.
With his combination of size and athleticism, Walker will be able to defend all five positions on the floor at the next level, using his strength to battle with other big men, and his quickness to keep with guards on the perimeter.
Jarace Walker brings tremendous defensive versatility at 6'7 with a chiseled frame, 7'2 wingspan, outstanding mobility and quickness getting off his feet. He guards all over the floor for Houston, showing terrific instincts jumping passing lanes or rotating to protect the rim. pic.twitter.com/KYkSSrtkme
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 15, 2023
Offensively, the inverse will be true where smaller guards will struggle to match up with the Pennsylvania native’s strength, and traditional bigs will be outdone by his speed.
Though Walker’s scoring numbers weren’t fabulous in college, that’s largely due to his role in Houston’s office where he played almost entirely off the ball, defaulting to two veteran guards in the Cougars’ backcourt.
Even in his diminished role at Houston, Walker showed a clear talent as a playmaker, finding his teammates with pocket passes while driving to the rim, or swinging the ball quickly around the perimeter.
Looking back at Walker’s high school tape, his playmaking is even more apparent where he regularly dissected defenses with his high-level vision, despite his superior physical traits.
As a ballhandler, the freshman showed an ability to make moves toward the basket, flashed advanced footwork with his euro-step, and has the ability to finish above the rim.
Though he wasn’t a prolific three-point shooter, Walker averaged more than one made three per game, and knocked down multiple threes in 11 different outings, showing potential as a true floor spacer.
Jarace Walker Weaknesses
Dating back to high school, Walker has never been an elite scorer, averaging just 16.7 points per game despite his superior physical tools.
While he makes up for it with his playmaking and defense, he likely won’t ever carry a primary offensive load.
One reason Walker isn’t a terrific scorer is his preference to pull up for mid-range jump shots and floaters rather than getting all the way to the rim and using his enormous frame to finish in traffic or get to the free-throw line.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) June 8, 2023
Walker knocked down only 66 percent of his free throws, which calls into question how well his three-point shooting will translate to the NBA.
The freshman had moments of overzealousness on defense, fouling three-point shooters or finding himself out of position on overaggressive closeouts.
There were also lapses where Walker didn’t always run hard in transition or wasn’t communicating with his teammates defensively, leading to blown assignments.
Jarace Walker Overall
Walker may not have the same highlight reel plays that others in the top 10 show on film, but his feel for the game, instincts as a help defender and passer, and overall versatility will make him a valuable player on every roster in the league.
The NBA Draft is fast approaching, and we're breaking down the top prospects on the board.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) May 11, 2023
While he played on one of the most talented rosters in all of college basketball last season, Houston did little to highlight his strengths as a player, and may have looked more impressive in a system that allowed him to rebound and go, or operate in the pick and roll both as the initiator and the roll man.
While finding a perfect NBA comparison for Walker may be difficult, the shades of Precious Achiuwa, Draymond Green, Jerami Grant, Grant Williams, Julius Randle, and Paul Millsap give him numerous pathways to succeed in the NBA.
Where Will Jarace Walker Get Drafted?
Due to his intriguing physical tools and feel, Walker is projected between 5-10 in most mock drafts, and is trending towards the top half of the lottery.
Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.
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