Spurs: Lonnie Walker can grow his legend in final regular season run
By Ethan Farina
Lonnie Walker can continue to win the hearts of San Antonio Spurs fans
Not every professional athlete embraces the city they play for as their home. This is especially true for smaller markets like San Antonio. But as much as San Antonio Spurs fans have embraced Lonnie Walker, the budding young wing has poured his heart back into the Alamo City with equal enthusiasm.
Over the past two years, we’ve seen Walker grow on and off the court. He finally cracked the rotation this year, carving out a solid role as a solid wing replacement off the bench. We’ve also seen him start to take a more active role in the community. Gregg Popovich has always stressed the importance of giving back, insisting that his players use their platforms for good. So far it looks like Walker has completely bought in on those teachings.
As the Spurs prepare to head to Orlando to wrap up their regular season and fight for a shot at the playoffs, Walker is in a perfect position to continue to win the hearts of Spurs fans across the country. San Antonio is facing an uphill battle for a playoff spot, if Walker can step his game up to help them close that gap, and possibly keep the playoff streak alive, he’ll be even more beloved by the fans than he already is.
San Antonio Spurs fans need Lonnie Walker to be great
Just earlier today the news broke that LaMarcus Aldridge will miss the rest of the regular season and any potential postseason games after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder. This news is a gut punch for the Spurs playoff hopes. Aldrdige had been one of their most consistent scoring options all year, they’re surely going to miss the low-post presence he provided.
If the Spurs want to make the playoffs they’re going to have to get creative. This could mean signing another big man to shore up their frontcourt depth, bringing up one of the young guys who played primarily in Austin or getting a little weird with some rotations.
During our recent Air Almo roundtable, we discussed what changes we think the team needs to make to have a shot at the playoffs. One change has to be allowing more minutes to Lonnie. He’s far too dangerous and exciting to be playing as little as he has at points during this season.
This could change depending on what moves the team may make to add to their frontcourt but right now it looks like we will be seeing a lot of Jakob Poeltl in Orlando. Surrounding him with shooters and slashers such as Patty Mills, Walker, and Derrick White could be a path to success. Or the Spurs could use a more traditional lineup and slot Rudy Gay into the frontcourt with a more typical group of guards and wings as complementary pieces.
The lineup of Poeltl, White, Walker, and Mills has been effective this year. That group of four provides a solid enough base of rim protection, perimeter defense, and outside shooting that it should be used more often in these final eight games. In their limited time together this season they did manage to post an impressive net rating +12.6 so the stats back them up.
Walker can be a two-way force if the Spurs unleash him. And even if they don’t end up making the playoffs, the bouncy wing is a key part of the future of this franchise. It’s hard to envision a downside of getting creative with lineups catered to bringing out the best of what Walker can do.
Whether he leads them to the playoffs or not, San Antonio Spurs fans are sure to be excited to see Lonnie Walker and the rest of the squad take the floor again in Orlando in just a few weeks.