With his second year approaching, Lonnie Walker IV is looking to make some massive strides in regards to his development with the San Antonio Spurs.
When the San Antonio Spurs drafted Lonnie Walker with the 18th overall pick last year, they saw a player with immense potential that should’ve been taken in the lottery.
Walker is an elite athlete that possesses tremendous length, but with plenty of room for growth, especially on the defensive side.
As his first year went by, fans could see flashes of this potential, but they also saw some inconsistency, both in the G-League and in his cameos during the regular season.
Even Walker himself said he trusts Pop’s process and recognizes he has a lot to learn before he can truly emerge as a star for the Spurs.
From what we have seen so far in the offseason as well as in the Summer League schedule, he is making good on that statement.
One of the key attributes Lonnie lacked enetering the NBA was defense.
Knowing the strong pedigree San Antonio has for shutdown defensive play, many expect the Spurs to help him improve on that end of the floor.
Becky Hammon has been leading the charge in that transition, mentioning that “… he has a lot of talent and ability to be a [defensive] stopper for us, so we are really on him to be locked in defensively, rebounding, every possession… We’ve got a good eye on him.”
During the offseason, he’s been focusing on another aspect of his game that needs improvement as well: his three-point shot, an aspect of the game that’s become almost a necessity in the modern NBA.
Per an interview with mySA, Walker said, “That was one of the main points of emphasis (this offseason), working on my feet, making sure I’m properly square to the basket, staying balanced and being comfortable out there.”
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He’s steadily grasping how the Spurs want him to play while retaining his sheer athleticism, aggressive offensive play, and fun personality. He’s even showcasing his leadership in early practices with the team.
Walker also showcased his zealous attacking play in Summer League.
He’s put up some great performances, such as his first game versus the Cavs where he posted 20 points with seven rebounds, two assists, three turnovers, and one steal in just 28 minutes, and the game versus the Magic where he posted 28 points with two rebounds, one steal and one turnover in just 23 minutes.
But arguably his greatest show thus far was in his monstrous performance versus the Toronto Raptors where he put up 32 points (12-of-23 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), six boards, two dimes, two steals and two blocks.
Walker had an impactful game where he wildly impressed everyone in attendance. Just watch the video showcasing his highlights versus the Raptors, he’s rapidly becoming a fun kid to watch.
The Spurs decided to shut Lonnie down for the rest of the Summer League, which is a testament to how much they value him going into next season. Perhaps they felt bad that Lonnie was simply tormenting opposing youngsters who couldn’t stop him.
This next season, Lonnie is expected to stick on the Spurs roster and get some legitimate minutes as he’s showcased some proper growth this summer. It seems almost certain that his G-League days are over.
Walker won’t see starter minutes in a crowded backcourt, but even with Dejounte Murray back and Derrick White continuing to develop, Lonnie could be a valuable weapon off the bench, especially now that Davis Bertans is in Washington.
No matter what, Lonnie’s development is something to monitor with all Spurs fan eager to see him turn into a star.
Walker is still only 20 years old, and he has a lot to learn as a pro so fans and analysts alike should be patient with him.
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The breakout might not happen this year, but he should still have some exciting moments next season off the bench that will give us a glimpse into what he can become. Overall, he’s on the right path and is in the perfect environment to continue to grow and flourish.