If the Portland Trail Blazers fail to make the NBA Playoffs, The Ringer has suggested the franchise might use its lottery pick on Houston Cougars forward Jarace Walker.
The Blazers’ 2023 first round pick is lottery protect, conveying to the Chicago Bulls if it’s 15 or lower.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor has described Walker as having shades of Julius Randle with a full tank of defense, a “versatile wrecking ball on defense and skilled playmaker on offense.”
He measures 6’8 with a 7’2 wingspan, playing either forward position, averaging 10.1 points on 36 percent three point shooting, 6.3 boards and 0.9 blocks.
Walker has a basketball player’s height (6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan) and a football player’s sturdy frame, and he matches his impressive physical dimensions with an insatiable appetite for getting stops.
Competitive defender with the physical tools to thrive in a switching scheme. He has the lateral quickness and motor to compete against guards and wings and the strength and length to battle bigs.
Versatility will be one of the perks of drafting Walker since he will be able to play some small-ball five in the NBA, thanks to his instincts as a shot blocker and verbal leadership skills. If he must play more off the ball, he’s also active in the passing lanes and when making rotations.
Good rebounder who can finish through contact on the offensive glass. On defense, he will box out and just move opponents out of the way. On the break, he looks for outlet opportunities.
A potential major pick-and-roll threat. He rumbles into the paint on the roll, but Houston doesn’t use many ball screens. On cuts and dives inside, defenders move out of his way, or he steamrolls over them. Since he can dribble, he can take the ball out of the short roll and get to the rim on his own. He can make acrobatic finishes, too, with leaning layups against contact. If his shooting range expands, the pick-and-pop will be an option, too.
Talented interior finisher beyond just his power. He has fluid footwork, the ability to sidestep defenders, and the touch to flip or float the ball up to the rim.
Skilled playmaker who will excel out of the short roll. He already throws bull’s-eye passes across the court to spot-up shooters, and he’s adept at delivering the ball to the dunker’s spot. His assists tend to come within the flow of the offense. He keeps it moving, never really record scratching possessions.
As a high school senior at IMG, he was given more freedom to handle the ball from the perimeter and operate out of the mid-post, facing up to attack the basket or pull up from midrange. At Houston, he has improved his spot-up jumper mechanics and shooting from behind the arc.
Read more here.