Saved the best for last as you can see!
At this point, you can probably see a bit of a pattern with the guys that I’ve picked for this feature, and that is that all of them are more or less power forwards that would slot right next to Myles Turner at the 4 position, and Jarace Walker is no different. However, Walker is most certainly the best-case scenario out of the 3 players listed and should be the no-doubt selection at 7 should he still be on the board. Jarace Walker’s best assets are without a doubt his physical tools, with him standing at 6’8″ and a beefy 249 pounds while possessing strength that someone of his age should not have and a reported 7’2″ wingspan accompanied with a 38-inch max vertical, which allowed him to average 1.3 blocks per game at Houston and will let him be a potential small-ball 5 at the NBA level.
In addition to being a physical specimen, Walker is also quite versatile, as he has all the physical tools necessary to guard big men in the paint, while also having the agility and defensive IQ to cover some guards and wings on the perimeter. And it’s this versatility that will be Walker’s calling card in the NBA, with him having the tools to guard all 5 positions and slot in nearly anywhere the team needs him on offense. In addition to versatility, Jarace Walker possesses the rare combination that NBA scouts salivate over, which is athleticism and a bit of finesse. Plenty of times, we have seen Walker showcase his impressive footwork, post moves, and touch around the rim of someone that has no business being as strong and athletic as he is. Also, unlike Whitmore, Walker is a savvy playmaker who doesn’t hold the ball too much and knows how to make the right read and feed his teammates.
Another area that Walker has shown promise in, is the pick-and-roll. Defenders at the college level were obviously overwhelmed by his physical tools so much that if he wasn’t steamrolling them on his way to the bucket, they’d simply just move out of his way. Walker also has a decent handle with the ball and this allows him to get to the rim by himself and create his own shot a bit through contact if needed. Also, if his 3-pointer keeps improving (34.7% on 2.8 attempts per game at Houston), he will also be a problem in the pick-and-pop scenario.
All of this seems like it’s too good to be true, doesn’t it? There can’t be a prospect this good that slides all the way down to the Pacers at 7, right? Well, Walker obviously isn’t perfect, and he does have some weaknesses in his game. Most of these weaknesses are centered around his offensive game, which still leaves a lot to be desired and might be the reason he slips a bit in the draft. For one, his shooting is streaky at best and subpar at worst. While he has improved his form in recent years, Walker is still unproven at the NBA 3-point level, and is even more of a red flag from the free-throw line, shooting just 66%, which is pretty surprising, considering his touch around the rim and from the mid-range. Speaking of shooting, while Walker has shown some flashes of being able to make shots off the bounce, he has also shown some inconsistency at that and often sees himself settling for mid-range jumpers and floaters a bit more than he might like to. Walker seems to have taken a liking to floaters and uses them quite often, even shying away from contact and resorting to a floater when he should probably be in there using his size and strength to get a better shot. Another problem with Walker is that, while he does have an impressive handle for a man of his size, he can also be quite careless with the ball, especially when driving to the rim, which often leads to him dribbling directly into traffic or forcing an ill-advised shot through the defense, and that is if he’s not outright losing the ball.
With all this being said, however, Walker is still the clear-cut best prospect among these 3 and the guy that Pacers fans should be most excited about with their draft position. If Walker is on the board come pick 7, he is a no-brainer for the Pacers to select, as his skill set perfectly compliments Myles Turner in the frontcourt, and he’ll be a perfect pick-and-roll partner with Tyrese Haliburton as well. Pacers fans also believe that, as he barely edged out Cam Whitmore as the prospect they are most excited for, and I have to agree.