September is officially underway, and that means that training camp is just around the corner for the San Antonio Spurs after an offseason full of some big moves. Most recently, the Spurs announced that they would be signing Keita Bates-Diop to a two-year contract, to the surprise of many that thought he would be receiving a two-way contract.
Ultimately, while we still aren't 100 percent certain what the team's lineups and rotations will look like starting in October, we do know that they're going to look very young. After the recent departure of DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills, and Rudy Gay, it's very clear that the Spurs' young core is going to be let off of the proverbial leash.
For Lonnie Walker IV, this means that he will more than likely play a much more consistent role with the team off of more minutes on the floor. He, along with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Luka Samanic, and perhaps even Tre Jones is going to have a big opportunity to show what he can do in San Antonio.
With that in mind, I think it's worth predicting just how well Walker will perform next season in his more defined role with the team.
Lonnie Walker will average 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game on 45/38/82 shooting splits with the San Antonio Spurs
This past season, in about 25 minutes per game, Walker averaged 11.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists on 42/36/81 shooting splits. While those numbers certainly aren't astounding, for him to put up those numbers and play good on-ball defense in his first season playing over 20 minutes per game is perfectly respectable.
Walker was held back last year quite a bit in several capacities, but namely, he just didn't have the ball in his hands often. I've shared this particular stat several times before, but I think it's well worth reiterating that he trailed seven other Spurs players last year in touches per game while at the same time leading the entire team in points per touch.
While I don't necessarily think that this stat is the end-all-be-all in terms of proving his potential as a scorer, I think it certainly points toward the possibility that he can become a consistent and efficient scorer if he's given more opportunities to do so.
Being that he'll likely be the primary scoring option off the bench (at least to start the season), I think there's a very good chance that his scoring will see a significant jump. I think him averaging around 16 points per game is a realistic possibility. If I were to make a loftier prediction, I think he could reach as high as 20 points per game if all goes right.
If Walker is given the "green light," so to speak, I think this will encourage him to be more aggressive going for the ball on both ends of the floor. Given his ridiculous hops and deceiving quickness, I think he could see a bump in his rebounding numbers as well. He's a player that's very difficult to stop in the open court and I think he'll benefit from capitalizing as much as possible in transition.
Finally, because he'll (hopefully) have the ball in his hands quite a bit more often, I think fans will have the opportunity to see more of Walker's playmaking ability. After all, we already know that he's capable of making some Harlem Globetrotter-worthy passes with the opportunities he's already been given.
If he's grown more comfortable with putting the ball on the floor, though, I think he could see a dramatic spike in his assist numbers. For now, I'll conservatively guess that he'll dish out about 2.5 assists per game next season, but I think that, in an absolute best-case scenario, he can record as many as 4 per game.
Overall, I'm expecting some big things from Walker. While the output that I predict him to have here is far from being a given, he's more than capable of putting up these numbers if he can use his natural tools to his advantage. From here, only time (and good health) will tell.