San Antonio Spurs: What are Lonnie Walker’s Rookie of the Year chances?
By Rob Wolkenbrod
Where will Lonnie Walker IV stand in the 2018-19 season? According to ESPN, this San Antonio Spurs rookie will not be in the conversation for the best of his draft class.
The San Antonio Spurs walked out of the 2018 NBA Draft with Lonnie Walker IV at No. 18 and Chimezie Metu at No. 49 overall. While Metu does not have a contract, Walker signed in July and will be part of the Spurs organization in the 2018-19 season.
In San Antonio’s franchise history, it has two NBA Rookie of the Year winners: David Robinson (1989-90) and Tim Duncan (1997-98). Both are among the organization’s greatest players of all time, so any rookie that comes along has much to live up to in pedigree.
For Walker, what are his 2018-19 Rookie of the Year chances? Not great, according to ESPN’s Forecast Panel. He did not place in the top seven of the website’s projections for the race towards this first-year award, receiving just 1 vote in the panel’s rankings:
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- Wendell Carter Jr.
- Marvin Bagley, Kevin Knox (tied)
- Trae Young
Other players that received votes include Mikal Bridges, Harry Giles and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Walker’s chances at Rookie of the Year depend on his path to playing time, which stands in question. Behind DeMar DeRozan, Bryn Forbes, Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli and Derrick White, there’s not a clear-cut spot for the Miami product, unless he plays his way into one. Given San Antonio’s approach to rookies these past two seasons, there might only be sporadic appearances in store, too.
If Walker stays in the G League for most of the 2018-19 campaign, it obviously takes him out of the running for Rookie of the Year. Along with players in the top seven that have clearer paths at playing time, it goes in their favor to pad stats, rather than learning for a year behind DeRozan, Ginobili and the other veterans.
Walker might not place in the Rookie of the Year conversation, but there’s a bright future ahead for him in San Antonio. Accolades can still arrive in year two, three and on.