No. 3: Jabari Walker
Blazers’ sophomore Jabari Walker has seen his minutes fluctuate throughout the season, but he’s recently found a niche as a short-roll playmaker.
Walker’s big body and playmaking instincts make him an effective hub in the middle of the floor when a Blazers’ ball handler draws multiple defenders. Throughout his tenure with the Blazers, he’s demonstrated solid finishing ability as a big forward who absorbs contact well. On field goals within 10 feet of the hoop, Walker has converted an impressive 60 percent this season.
Walker’s most impressive skill thus far has been his offensive rebounding. He possesses a knack for being in the right spot at the right time, which often translates to loose ball recoveries and putbacks.
His ranginess and strength equip him with decent defensive versatility and switchability. However, Walker is neither an on-ball stopper nor a rim-protecting anchor, which limits his defensive ceiling.
Walker’s shooting remains limited; he is only hitting 26.5 percent from three this season, but his repeatable form and promising free throw numbers offer some hope that he can raise those numbers. Shooting remains the biggest swing skill that will dictate whether Walker can carve out a bigger role for himself.
Although his shooting is a work in progress, Walker has already emerged as one of Billups’ go-to backup fives as a small-ball option. His short-roll playmaking and defensive toughness earn him a top rank among the Blazers’ group of rookies and sophomores.