Jarace Walker seems like a perfect fit for the OKC Thunder

Jarace Walker #25 of the Houston Cougars. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Jarace Walker #25 of the Houston Cougars. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Jarace Walker
Jarace Walker #25 of the Houston Cougars (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Jarace Walker is a cutting and transition machine, making him an excellent fit for the OKC Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been out to see Jarace Walker in person for a good reason. On top of just doing their due diligence, Walker fits almost everything the Thunder want to do and need to find in the 2023 NBA Draft.

The Houston product’s strong suit is undoubtedly on the defensive side of the floor, but he is no slouch offensively. He dominates in transition, ranking in the 97th percentile in the nation with 1.500 points per possession in that category, according to Synergy.

In transition, especially around the rim, Walker hardly gets sped up. Instead, he understands how to use his body, the ball, and the basket, to free up space from the defense and time his jump at the perfect spot to have enough space to finish around the cup.

At the rim, Walker shots 66 percent, slamming home all 23 of his dunk attempts and ranking in the 80th percentile with a 1.32 points per possession outburst at the ring.

On catch-and-shoot jumpers, Walker is shooting 40 percent from the floor. When unguarded, that leaps up to 41 percent and only dips to 39 percent when defended. An area of improvement for Walker will be his off-the-bounce jumpers, which he only makes at a 31 percent clip.

Scoring at the rim, off the catch on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander kick-outs, and with Walker ranking in the 75th percentile on cuts, it is easy to see his role in Mark Daigneault’s offense.

Jarace Walker has a nice shooting stroke and does not appear to need many if any, tweaks to his form. However, some work with Thunder assistant coach Chip Engelland might take him from a nearly 37 percent three-point shooter in college to a new level in the NBA.

The concerning part of Walker’s jump shot production is his free throw shooting. He is only making his freebies at a 61 percent clip. Most NBA scouts use 70 percent or higher as a mark to project three-point success at the next level, and Walker is not near that mark.

Way back in November, Walker was hitting 43 percent of his triples, but that dropped to 25 percent in December before returning to 37 percent in January and February. With the Houston Cougars looking poised for a deep run in March, the forward will be on plenty of big stages in the coming weeks.

Jarace Walker currently ranks anywhere from three to twelve on NBA Draft boards of people I have talked to, and March Madness could go a long way in solidifying his range. However, Walker must be near the top for an Oklahoma City Thunder-specific big board.

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