Jordan Walsh Breakdown

With Summer League kicking off today, here is an in depth breakdown of newest draft pick Jordan Walsh.

The Boston Celtics entered the 2023 NBA Draft with the 25th overall pick after trading Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies for their 2023 first and the Golden State Warriors 2024 first round pick.

By the end of the draft Brad Stevens ended up turning pick 25 into four future second round picks and Jordan who the Celtics picked at 38.

Jordan is a 19 year old former five star recruit who attended the University of Arkansas for his lone season of college basketball.

While he may not have lived up to the five star status he certainly proved he has the talent and work ethic to get a chance at playing pro ball in the NBA.

And that’s where expectations come in.

Expectations and Marcus Smart

I can’t remember the last time a Celtics second round pick has been so heavily pushed into the spotlight from the team.

This is 100% partly because of the fanbase being distraught over the Marcus Smart trade, so the best thing to do is distract with Jordan Walsh propaganda.

And while it’s good for Jordan as the team is letting him shine in the biggest moment of his life so far, it’s also incidentally placing expectations that are way too high for him. At least for the early portion of his career.

The expectations we as a fanbase have for him, are slightly skewed.

For starters, before we break down his game, let’s just acknowledge that while his effort and hustle may have him in Celtics fans hearts immediately, he is not Marcus Smart, nor is he a Marcus Smart replacement. Not now, and probably not ever. And that’s not a dig at him. 

There’s a reason why the fanbase was distraught and partly still is after the Smart trade. He’s not a player you just replace, and definitely not with a 19 year old rookie drafted with a second round pick.

In saying all that, there is promise in Walsh’s game. And it does start the same way it started for Smart.


This is mainly where expectations on Jordan are skewed, when you watch highlights of him and listen to the draft analyst you keep hearing how elite he is defensively, and he is extremely good on that side of the ball.

Most impressive was his matchup with one of the best players in all of college basketball last season, during the second round of March Madness when he took Jalen Wilson out of the game and helped his team pull off the upset.

But, there is a difference between an elite prospect and an elite player, and Jordan Walsh is an ELITE defensive prospect, but not yet an elite defensive player.

He has all the characteristics to be elite, and that’s why I believe he eventually will be, and eventually being sooner rather than later, but he still has things to work on.

For starters, he can get beat off the dribble, mostly on the first step, but guys rarely made him pay because his recovery was so often elite.

He gambles too often which worked at the college level but may lead to open threes in a league where 99.9% of the guys hit open threes.

He’s not big enough yet which can cause him to be moved off his spots sometimes, but that is expected from a 19 year old kid, his strength will come.

And he fouled a lot, which is something that was more of his aggression rather than his lack of IQ so that’s not as big of an issue, especially because the college whistle is completely different than the NBA whistle.

But the point is, what’s elite about Jordan Walsh is his characteristics, not his defense. Not yet anyway. Although even at this point, it is still extremely good and will make an impact almost immediately.

It’s his size, his athleticism, his effort, his hustle, the intangibles, the things you can’t teach.

He just has a knack of making big time plays that don’t show up on that stat sheet, again, sound familiar?

It’s the Winning plays. The Tommy Points.


At 6’6 with a 7’3 wingspan, his size allows him to both annoy opposing offensive players in iso, and also help off his guy without having to get caught out on his own assignment. 

His length makes it extremely difficult for opposing ball handlers to get anywhere off the dribble, or a shot off when he’s anywhere near them.

Combining his size with his effort and hustle and he quickly becomes a winning player. 50/50 balls are not 50/50 balls with Jordan Walsh on the court.

His characteristics are elite, and that’s what will, both, make his defense elite, and get him on the court. 

That’s why there is belief that a second round pick at 19 years old has a future in this league.

But of course, there are still two sides of the ball. And that’s where questions arise.


Offensively is where the major questions lie when it comes to his NBA ability, and rightfully so.

Jordan is extremely raw on the offensive side, he sometimes looked hesitant and even lost during his season at Arkansas. Some of that blame goes to the Arkansas offense which was predicated on transition and running rather than half court where they were bad as a whole throughout the season.

But even so, I think the criticism on his offense has gone a bit too far, it’s become overrated how “bad” his offense is.

The one thing that is true is that his shot needs to improve, and improve drastically, especially on a Celtics team who’s offense was predicated on the three ball.

While he only shot 27% from three, his shot looks smooth, his form doesn’t seem to be the issue, rather, his confidence, so I would be surprised if his shot doesn’t develop.

So, yes his shot has to improve if he wants to become an NBA regular, but sticking him in a box of being a three and D guy negates what he does bring offensively. I’d be surprised if his shot doesn’t develop.

He’s a super athlete, he can attack close outs, he’s a good connecting passer and most of all he’s a fantastic cutter and rebounder.

Again, none of that matters if he can’t shoot because the defense won’t close out on him in the first place, but if the shot does come along it will allow him to blossom in other ways as well.

So sure he’s not comfortable being a primary ball handler, he’s not great at creating for himself or others, and he can’t pull up and hit threes consistently, but if you’re counting on any of that from a 19 year old second round pick on a team with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown you’re setting him, and the team up for failure.

In Conclusion

Finally, yes Jordan has limitations, and probably more limitations than not right now, but he’s a 19 year old super athlete who has the potential to be elite defensively.

And most importantly he has the work ethic. To be an NBA player you need to have talent, you need to have a good feel for the game, good basketball IQ, you have to be one of the best basketball players in the world to survive in the NBA, but even when talent lacks there is ways to help separate yourselves from others, ways to help you keep a job and he has all of that.

He’s a high character dude, he works hard, he wants to be great, he buys in, he defends, he gives 100% effort every possession of every night. Even if he lacks talent he makes up for it with all of his characteristics.

Summer league will give us our first look at the newest Celtic draft pick, today at 3pm.

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