What Makes Jarace Walker a Potential Spurs Lottery Pick

Jarace Walker is a 19-year-old power forward who will likely go in the top half of the lottery during the 2023 NBA Draft. Depending on where the San Antonio Spurs are picking, there’s a definite chance that they could select the power forward who spent a successful season at the University of Houston.

Heading into his freshman campaign, Walker was a five-star recruit who was known for his advanced feel for the game and his tenaciousness on defense. The teenager lived up to the hype and helped the Houston Cougars finish the season with a record of 33-4.

The Spurs will find out where exactly they will pick following the draft lottery on May 16th. If San Antonio gets the top pick, the no-brainer selection is superstar-in-the-making Victor Wembanyama. If the Spurs get a top four pick, they’ll likely end up with either Scoot Henderson or Amen Thompson. But if the Silver and Black end up with a pick between five and seven, that’s when a player like Walker would enter the draft discussions.

Jarace Walker’s Strengths

Walker has an enviable frame at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds. Add in his reported 7-foot-2 wingspan and there’s no doubt that he’s built like an NBA lottery pick. 

But Walker is more than just a physical specimen. He’s a very smart basketball player who has a team-first attitude that is likely to translate directly to winning games. On both ends of the court, he processes the action quickly and is seemingly always in the right spots.

Defense is where Walker really shines. He’ll be an above average defender on Day 1 and could become an elite defender at some point in his career. He protects the rim with ferocity, he’s physical in the lane and he’s active in passing lanes.

Out on the perimeter, Walker is light on his feet and should be able to stay in front of most NBA players. He’ll likely be a power forward or a small ball center as a professional but he’ll be able to do well on defense all the way out to the three-point line. 

Offensively, Walker’s intelligence shines. He’s a smart passer who limits mistakes and rarely makes unwise decisions. He can seamlessly fit next to other talented players and figure out ways to aid his team’s cause.

Scoring-wise, he has some notable talents. Walker has a very good floater for a player his size; his touch in the lane is sublime. He shot nearly 35% from three-point range on almost three attempts per game. He also has a knack for hitting shots when on the move. 

All in all, Walker has all the markings of a very good role player. It’s clear he’s the type of player you want on your team when you’re trying to make noise in the playoffs. 

Areas of Concern for Jarace Walker

Can Walker ever be anything more than a role player? The trail to stardom for him isn’t an obvious one — mostly due to what he has shown on the offensive end.

At 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, it’s a bit worrisome that his best offensive move is a floater. At Houston, Walker didn’t show much burst and wasn’t an especially explosive leaper in traffic. As a result, he had a pedestrian two-point percentage and rarely got to the free throw line.

While he shot three-pointers reasonably well, Walker’s mechanics are iffy. His windup lacks fluidity and his release is stiff. He also shot just 66.2% from the free throw line at Houston, which adds another question mark regarding his three-point shooting going forward.

I think Walker is a solid prospect who is very likely to be worthy of a top seven pick. That said, his upside appears to be limited barring either improved explosiveness or a consistent three-point shot. 

A Scout’s View: Jarace Walker’s Fit on the Spurs

“He seems like a Spurs guy but I’m not sure where he plays there,” a scout told me about Walker’s fit in San Antonio. “[Jeremy] Sochan and Keldon [Johnson] would be roadblocks to minutes. If he doesn’t shoot it, he could be stuck without a pathway.”

Final Thoughts on the Spurs Potentially Drafting Jarace Walker

If the Spurs end up with pick five, six or seven following the NBA draft lottery on May 16th, I think drafting Walker will definitely be on the table. While his fit with the current squad might not be clear, he’s the type of smart, well-rounded prospect the Spurs tend to draft. I wouldn’t be surprised if San Antonio picks him with the idea that they can mold his physical and mental tools into a very valuable building block.