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Where does Jabari Walker stand after the NBA Combine?

Henry Chisholm Avatar
May 26, 2022

BOULDER — Jabari Walker participated in the NBA Draft Combine, which ran from May 16-22 in Chicago. He is currently entered in the NBA draft pool but he can withdraw and return to school as long as his decision is made by June 1. The draft will be held June 23 in Chicago.

Shortly after the combine, Walker announced on Instagram that he has signed with an agency, essentially confirming that he will remain in the draft.

Walker made noise on the court immediately when his team won its first scrimmage 100-81. Walker was the team’s leading scorer with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 2-of-3 shooting from deep. (It’s worth noting that one of those 3-pointers was banked in.) He also record seven rebounds, an assist, a steal and two blocks.

While Walker shined in the game, he didn’t help himself with any of the testing. He measured in at just under 6-foot-7, which makes him pretty small for a power forward. His standing vertical jump (29.5 inches) was in the middle of the pack and his max vertical jump (32.5 inches) was slightly worse. His shooting and mobility stats hovered around the middle of the pack for his position or were below average.

The easy takeaway here is that Walker isn’t quite physically developed. This is evidenced by his 12% body fat, which was the sixth worst out of 61 players who were tested. His body just needs a little bit more work.

His game needs some work too. While his rebounding translated to the combine scrimmages, his offensive skillset is still raw and his defense still needs some work, despite having great feel as a shot-blocker.

If Walker can clean up his body a little bit and put on more muscle—basically get himself into the shape Tyler Bey was in when he declared for the draft—he has a decent shot at sticking in the NBA. He’ll need to become more stout in the post and polish himself significantly as a defender. Plus he’ll need to find himself a role on the offensive end, whether that’s extending his shooting range to the 3-point line, translating his cutting ability to the next level or developing more post-up moves.

The other path could be to play small forward, where he already has the size to compete. The league is in desperate need of wing defenders and Walker has the traits to fit that bill. His role would be as a defensive stopper, which would mean improving significantly on defense—that’s always much easier said than done—since his offense will always be lackluster at the three. Still, he probably has the shooting ability to hold his own and could be a plus shooter if he can speed up his release. He’d be a great rebounder for the position, too.

Overall, Walker is a long athlete with great instincts for shot-blocking and elite rebounding instincts. He’s raw, both as an athlete and as a basketball player. He could fit into either forward role, though the fears of him being a tweener are real; he’s probably a couple of inches shorter than you’d like him to be considering his ideal role.

As of now, most mock drafts have Walker as a second-round pick or an undrafted free agent. Detroit Bad Boys has Walker as the #42 prospect, Sports Illustrated has him at #43, NBADraftRoom.com has him at #68, and ESPN has him at #74. All of these came out after the combine. Additionally, Bleacher Report didn’t include Walker in its top 50 prospects and he didn’t appear in any of the first round mock drafts.


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