Trail Blazers 2023 NBA Draft Big Board 3.0: Final pre-lottery rankings

Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitan 92, Credit: FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images
Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitan 92, Credit: FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images /
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Jarace Walker should be on the Portland Trail Blazers 2023 NBA Draft Big Board.
Jarace Walker, Houston Cougars (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images) /

6. Jarace Walker, Houston

Big Board 2.0 rank – No. 9

The more you watch Walker and imagine his fit and role in the NBA, the more enticing of a prospect he becomes.

Walker is 6-8, 240 pounds, has a 7-2 wingspan, and is still only 18 years old. When experts talk about scouting a prospect with a “grown man’s body,” they’re talking about someone like Walker.

His strength, length, size, athleticism, and activity make him a defensive menace. In his draft guide, O’Connor refers to Walker as, “a versatile wrecking ball on defense.”

He’s strong and compact, but he can move his feet well enough and has the defensive instincts to stick with players of multiple sizes and skill levels. He also has a high defensive IQ; he knows when to help and how to force opponent ballhandlers where they don’t want to go.

Offensively, there’s a lot more to Walker’s game than he showed at Houston. He has a little Zion Williamson in him in terms of skill set. He’s slighter (in shape, one could say) and not as explosive, but his touch around the rim is excellent and his IQ translates from the defensive end with the way he sees the floor and can playmake.

He’s a decent ballhandler, and his strength allows him to barrel through defenders near the basket, especially when he’s the roll man off pick-and-roll action. His shot was fairly inconsistent at Houston, but he did shoot better than 34 percent from three on almost three attempts per game.