How Jarace Walker and the Spurs can push the boundaries of positionless basketball

Jarace Walker - NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Birmingham
Jarace Walker - NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Birmingham / Alex Slitz/GettyImages
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Jarace Walker's Strengths


Many tend to gravitate towards Walker's defense as being his main draw. While I don't necessarily disagree with that sentiment, his playmaking ability is easily my favorite trait. While 1.7 assists per game may not instill a ton of confidence in his passing, that number comes down to his role in Houston's offense. But when Walker can get into the paint with the ball off the short roll or attacking a closeout, he is an incredibly dangerous connector.

Walker is comfortable making live-dribble passes, makes a habit of finding weak-side shooters, and finds space to feed cutters (as seen above). At his size, you will be hard-pressed to find a more talented and effective passer in his draft class, and combined with his ability to score the ball, it will do wonders for him at the next level.


Walker's defense made him a highly-touted prospect coming into the college basketball season, and it's easy to see why. At 6'8" and 240 pounds, Walker is physically gifted enough to cause havoc for smaller guards on the perimeter--particularly when trapping--but also has the requisite size and strength to guard up positions. He covers ground deceptively quickly for his size using his underrated burst and isn't afraid to dig at players with a loose handle on the ball.

Beyond that, Walker makes disciplined rotations, communicates well, closes out on shooters hard, and keeps his head on a swivel. But perhaps most importantly, he's shown quite a bit of competence as a rim protector with good lift, timing, and the ability to recover when someone gets by him on the perimeter. Having good instincts is half the battle when it comes to effectively protecting the rim--especially when you're only 6'8"--and Walker has plenty where that came from.


Walker's talent for finishing around the rim and brushing off contact at least partly comes from his freakish athleticism. But it can also be attributed to his flashes of impressive touch near the basket. He can catch lobs in the dunker's spot and off pick-and-roll actions or use his developed ballhandling moves to weave through defenders. His touch and general finishing ability have been easier to see when he uses his right hand, and his left hand will need to continue to develop, but what he's shown in this department is already convincing enough for me to label it as a strength.