1. The San Antonio Spurs have a desperately-needed reliable shooter back
During their recent streak of losing 10 of 12 games, the Spurs were shooting at a comically lousy rate. Against teams like Atlanta and Cleveland, it was getting to the point where defenses had all five defenders within one step of the paint at all times, and San Antonio could do nothing to make them pay from the outside. In the latter game against the Cavaliers, they shot an embarrassing 5-of-26 while Cleveland shot 12-of-34.
What made this trend even worse was that many of the Spurs’ looks were wide open, which is where a professional basketball team is supposed to shoot a bit better than usual. Instead, Patty Mills was the only active rotation player hitting over 40 percent in wide-open situations in Walker’s absence.
Lonnie Walker is fourth on the team in 3-point percentage overall at 36.4 percent, but his value lies in more than just his outside accuracy. Walker’s ability to space the floor is crucial on a team full of other slashers like DeMar DeRozan, Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, and Keldon Johnson.
Not to mention, Walker is quite the slasher himself as he is now shooting 55 percent from the restricted area. Spacing for teammates and finishing at the hoop isn’t the only way Walker’s presence is paying off for the Spurs, however.
Next: Effect No. 2