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Buffaloes in the NBA: Jabari Walker impresses in Summer League

And other updates from the Colorado alum playing in the Summer League

2022 Las Vegas Summer League- New Orleans Pelicans v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

There are six Colorado Buffaloes players competing in the NBA Summer League. It’s been something of a mixed bag, from second rounders fighting for roster spots to fifth- and sixth-year seniors trying to prove they belong in the G League. This is the first update of a few to come.

Jabari Walker, PF, Portland Trail Blazers

Drafted 57th in the 2022 NBA Draft, Blazers fans are already hyping Jabari as the steal of the draft. In just 33 minutes across two games, Walker has put up 23 points (9/14 shooting) and 12 rebounds, all while playing good team defense in a place where that’s tough to do. He’s really impressed with his feel for the game and general basketball IQ. He is in the right place at the right time, plays within himself and does the little things to contribute to winning basketball. If he keeps playing like this, he could lock up a roster spot — at least a two-way — and compete for minutes in the Blazers’ frontcourt with the likes of Drew Eubanks, Trendon Watford and Greg Brown III.

McKinley Wright IV, PG, Phoenix Suns

Undrafted last year, Wright had a successful season with the Iowa Wolves in the G League, limited only an injury to his left (non-shooting) elbow. He chose to try out with the Phoenix Suns, who have a strange Summer League roster in that no player was drafted by the team and only 27-year-old Ish Wainwright was on their roster last season. It’s hard to envision Wright earning a roster spot in Phoenix — they already have three point guards in Chris Paul, Cam Payne and Aaron Holiday (who as a junior at UCLA shot 10/32 with 11 turnovers in two losses to freshman Kin) — but it’s been good for him to showcase his game to other teams who can offer him a back-end roster spot. He’s been the consummate floor general in these games, contributing on defense and on the boards. In typical fashion, he’s put up 14 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 steals in 46 minutes of play so far.

Tyler Bey, PF, Philadelphia 76ers

While the SL has gone well for Walker and Wright, it looks like Tyler Bey won’t have an immediate future in the NBA. He’s bounced around various Mavericks, Bulls, Rockets and 76ers rosters, struggling at every stop. He’s such a great athlete, but unfortunately he hasn’t gotten any stronger and his skills haven’t developed. Bey has looked just okay in the few chances he’s had this summer, but even then, he’s already had four DNP-CDs in six games. He was on 2-way contracts the last two years, but unfortunately it’s hard to see him being offered one again.

George King, SF/PF, Portland Trail Blazers

After playing on two-way and 10-day contracts with the Suns, Clippers and Mavericks, George King is also facing an uphill battle for an NBA roster spot. He’s a bit older — already 28-years-old — and is probably capped out as a 3-and-D forward who is good enough for the G League but not dynamic enough for the NBA. His best bet is that Chauncey Billups shows a bit too much loyalty and keeps him around on a 2-way deal; otherwise, he will probably stick around in the G League hoping for 10-day contracts.

D’Shawn Schwartz, SF, New York Knicks

First of all, Schwartz’s college is listed as George Mason, which is going to bother me for as long as he plays. I get that’s standard for transfers and grad students, but (as we all know) Tad Boyle approached the extra Covid year as having his guys graduate from CU and try to challenge themselves in new environments. He’s still our guy and Kim English and Nate Tomlinson can’t claim him for themselves. Anyway, Schwartz is mostly in the Summer League to test himself against fringe NBA talent. He’s only played a few minutes of garbage time so far and it’s hard to see him getting anything more than a G League deal.

Jeriah Horne, PF, Sacramento Kings

Schwartz is a CU alum through and through, whereas Jeriah Horne gets the Buff treatment the same way Xavier Silas and Tre’Shaun Fletcher get it — they’re our guys, even if they spent most of their time away. (Daylen Kountz will get the same treatment.) Similar to Schwartz, Horne is probably testing himself in the professional waters. His game is better suited for Europe, so maybe that’s the route he takes, or he sticks it out in the G League.