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Buffaloes in the NBA: Jabari Walker signs rookie deal with Portland

Walker will be on the Blazers’ 15-man roster.

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

Colorado Buffaloes star Jabari Walker has signed a standard contract with the Portland Trail Blazers. This means the 57th pick in the NBA Draft will be on the full 15-man roster, rather than on a two-way contract, as is common for players who were picked in the back half of the second round. It’s a three-year, $4.76 million deal, fully guaranteed in the first year.

This is expected news following Walker’s star turn in the NBA Summer League. In 59 minutes of play, the All-Pac-12 forward has put up 39 points and 25 rebounds on 15/22 shooting (3/7 on threes). Those numbers are absurd, even if you discount the quality of competition. Even better, he’s doing all that while playing great team defense, playing within the flow of the game, and producing in ways that will translate to winning basketball at the NBA level.

It’s clear that Jabari is leaning into being a role player, as he discussed at length in an interview with Casey Holdahl:

“I’ve always preached the little things — you see me rebounding, putback dunks, that’s what’s part of a winning team,” said the younger Walker. “A lot of guys don’t do that, a lot of guys focus on the main things. I could be a guy that works my way from the bottom and then earns a bigger role where I’m trusted more. I just want to do it the organic way, earn my way, earn my trust and then there’s still skill sets that I have that a lot of people haven’t seen. Whenever it comes it, it comes out.”

Walker will be on the full-time roster and compete for minutes in the frontcourt. He is in a fortunate position in that the Blazers will be competing for the playoff, but of all the contenders in the West, they probably have the weakest frontcourt depth, and therefore the most chance for him to earn a rotation spot. Playing behind Jerami Grant, his competition will be some combination of Justice Winslow, Trendon Watford, Greg Brown III and Drew Eubanks, all of whom are either unproven or injury prone.