2023 NBA Mock Draft: Mavericks land difference-maker, Victor Wembanyama heads East

2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama
2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama / Aurelien Meunier/GettyImages
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5. Portland Trail Blazers take Jarace Walker

The Blazers plan on keeping Damian Lillard and trying to build around their franchise GOAT, which means they desperately need to improve their defense. Portland ranked 28th in defensive rating this season as they gave up 118.0 points per 100 possessions. To get to even the middle of the pack, the Trail Blazers will have to shave off 4.5 points per 100 possessions.

Walker is arguably the best defender in this class. At 6’8 and 240 pounds, the 19-year-old has an NBA-ready body. He will likely slot in at the four, but Walker has the athletic ability and defensive chops to guard multiple positions. Teams are excited about his toughness and energy, and his defense alone should make him a top-ten pick.

Can Jarace Walker make enough jumpers to be the coveted 3-and-D wing that every contending team needs? He shot 34.7 percent from 3-point range in his lone college season at the University of Houston, but his mechanics are questionable. Can he improve his outside shooting and become a league-average option in the NBA? It is the key to Walker reaching his ceiling.

The Blazers need strong defenders that can switch. Walker could literally guard every player on the floor, and his mix of versatility and upside could make him a top-five selection on June 22.