The Portland Trail Blazers didn’t have very high expectations when they selected Jabari Walker with the penultimate pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but the rookie from Colorado was able to prove why he probably should have been drafted sooner.
The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie ranks Walker as the 32nd-best prospect from the 2022 NBA Draft after one year in the league.
Finally, let’s show some love for Walker, who had a few high-level moments this season. I really like the way he moves without the ball. He’s a sharp cutter and aggressively runs the court in transition. Defensively, he has some switchable moments and athletically looks like he belongs.
Walker averaged a mere 3.9 points per game this past season for the Blazers, but the No. 57 pick made 56 appearances for Portland this season, god enough for 19th among all rookies. Some of those appearances were only garbage time, but in half of these games, Walker played more than 10 minutes, proving that he was worth a look.
As the Blazers look to take another step towards competing in the Western Conference next season, the efforts in creating a roster that is capable of doing so could shrink Walker’s playing time next year.
While Walker will have to compete alongside the bottom-third of the roster for playing time again in his second NBA season, the Blazers rookie proved that he deserves to be in the league and has a future in the Association.