After dominating the Summer League, the San Antonio Spurs need to seriously consider Lonnie Walker IV’s role for the 2019-20 season.
Of every storyline to emerge throughout the Summer of 2019, San Antonio Spurs fans really seemed to latch onto the idea of Lonnie Walker IV breaking out as a sophomore.
The 20-year-old brought a breath of fresh to the lineup with his thoughtful demeanor and riveting athletic ability, but injuries derailed the early going of his rookie year and forced the swingman into the G League for most of the season.
He performed admirably in the Summer League, scoring in boatloads and showing off a well-rounded game by playing above the rim and operating as a preliminary ball handler in both half and full court settings. His play earned him a selection on the 2019 NBA Summer League Second Team despite playing only two games in Las Vegas, but his play has recently dropped off against improved competition.
Walker is shooting terribly in the preseason through four games. In an average of 18.2 minutes per contest, the sophomore is putting up 6.3 points on 34.8% shooting from the field and a lowly 25% from three-point land with a -1 plus/minus. He’s working to get comfortable in this setting and it’s taking longer than the Summer League may have suggested, so Walker’s minutes may not be solidified to start the year.
San Antonio has tremendous depth this year, especially in the backcourt. This means that there are less minutes to go around, so Gregg Popovich will be forced to distribute them amongst players who’ve proven their ability through preseason. As a result, Walker’s introduction to the lineup could be pushed further back.
Popovich has allocated 18.2 minutes per game to Walker through the team’s preseason, which has allowed Walker to compete against some elite competition in James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Jimmy Butler. While competition is not nearly as intense this early into the year, this is still valuable experience for a player in Lonnie’s position and could prove useful deeper into the season.
More from Air Alamo
- San Antonio Spurs: Jakob Poeltl reasserting himself as a defensive force
- San Antonio Spurs: Trading for John Collins still a longshot for Spurs
- Spurs’ opponents are making unfortunate history at ATT Center
- San Antonio Spurs: Role change needed to bring out best in Lonnie Walker
- San Antonio Spurs: Diaw shares how Tim Duncan once souped up his ride
While Walker has struggled, both Dejounte Murray and Bryn Forbes have put together a collection of strong showings to suggest that they’ll start to begin the season. This leaves backup minutes to distribute amongst Derrick White, Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli at the guard spots.
Many of his minutes have been at the backup small forward, which is an interesting development considering the DeMarre Carroll signing. This suggests that the Spurs’ new addition will share power forward duties with LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay, paving way for Walker to stick in the backup three slot.
However, Popovich is going to make him work for his minutes and will adjust them based on performance. Walker could even see more time in the G League this season if phased out of the rotation – although his dynamic play has the potential to spark the second unit next to White and the rest of the team’s deep roster.
Walker wants to see more than just the end of blowouts this season, but he needs to earn his keep in order to see the floor more often.