2024 NBA Mock Draft: Blazers take game-changer, Spurs get star at 1

2024 NBA Draft, Ron Holland. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
2024 NBA Draft, Ron Holland. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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2024 NBA Draft
2024 NBA Draft, Ja’Kobe Walter. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images) /

9. Indiana Pacers select Ja’Kobe Walter

The Pacers hope Tyrese Haliburton can lead them out of their rebuild this season. Indiana has their sights set on their first playoff appearance since 2020, but reaching the Play-In Tournament may be a more realistic goal. ESPN’s stat-based projections are not high on their chances, but the Pacers have two first-round picks to further improve their roster.

Walter is a modern 3-and-D wing. He has the size and strength to guard multiple positions and was an outstanding long-range shooter in high school. Walter can also handle the ball, attack off the bounce, and make plays. His handle, defense, and passing are all works in progress. If he can take those skills to another level, the 6’5 teenager could be a top-five pick on draft night.

Ja’Kobe Walter figures to be one of Baylor’s leading scorers. The Bears are ranked in the preseason top 20 but have aspirations of a deep NCAA Tournament run. Much of that will depend on how much Walter improves and his ability to stand out.

Tyrese Haliburton will be the Pacers’ lead ball-handler for the foreseeable future, but Walter could become a key secondary playmaker, floor spacer, and defensive stopper as the team tries to make deep playoff runs. He is a fantastic fit in Indiana, but the Pacers would have to help the teenager reach his ceiling.