In White’s absence, Lonnie Walker must channel inner Ginobili

San Antonio Spurs Lonnie Walker (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs Lonnie Walker (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
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With Derrick White expected to miss some time, the San Antonio Spurs are going to some help. White was on a tear in April and finally seemed back to normal before the ever-present injury bug struck him again on Monday. Ready or not, they face their toughest stretch of the season in May.

In the absence of their third-leading scorer, the Spurs will need a reliable option to make his mark for San Antonio to continue their recent winning ways. Now is the time for Lonnie Walker to have his Manu Ginobili moment. Manu could always be counted on to provide a scoring punch and intensity from the second unit throughout his Hall of Fame career.

While I suspect he’ll be starting in White’s absence, Walker is the best option to become the Spurs’ X factor for the remainder of the season. Since his rookie year as an excitable freak athlete playing ahead of himself, he’s now transformed into an excitable freak athlete playing under control.

Lonnie has come a long way on both ends of the floor, with his biggest area improvement being his playmaking. Walker used to be out of control on drives, often leaving his feet too early or being too set on his planned attack instead of adapting to rotating defenses. Now, he’s seeing the floor better with each passing game.

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Make no mistake, Lonnie still has his rough patches, but they’re not as frequent as they’ve been in the past when they were earning him quick trips to the bench from Coach Popovich.

San Antonio Spurs’ injuries bring the best out of Lonnie Walker

Walker always tends to perform best when the team is shorthanded and he’s required to take on a bigger role. It’s happened multiple times this season, particularly when DeMar DeRozan and Derrick White were out. When DeMar had to miss some time due to his father’s passing, Lonnie put up consecutive games of 25, 24, and 16 points.

The fact that Lonnie doesn’t seem to be all that effective when he’s not one of the main options is certainly something the Spurs will need to address with him going forward. With relatively healthy lineups over the last 10 games, he’s only scored in double figures three times.

But with Derrick White out, who could be considered anywhere from the first to third option on this roster, Walker must be one of the main options once again. Assuming he starts, he’d be the only starter shooting 35 percent or better from 3-point range, which is increasingly valuable in today’s NBA.

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While he’s far from Manu Ginobili on paper, he has an opportunity to provide the energy, shooting, and spark Manu made a career out of in San Antonio. The lights are on you again, Lonnie. It’s time to shine.

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