What would it look like if Lonnie Walker and Kevin Huerter traded places?
One of the most interesting hypotheticals from this draft centers around the player taken immediately after Lonnie Walker. What if the Spurs had taken Kevin Huerter instead? Would they be better off today? At first glance, it sure seems like they would be.
I think most NBA GMs would tell you that Huerter is the better player right now. The 4-year, $65M extension that the Hawks gave him this summer says that they definitely believe in him. But can we say that if Huerter and Walker had traded places that it wouldn't be Walker thriving while Huerter wonders where he might be playing next season?
Just consider the vast difference in the situations they walked into after being drafted. Lonnie spent most of his rookie season with the Austin Spurs - - as is Spurs tradition -- and didn't become a consistent part of the Spurs rotation until midway through his second season.
Meanwhile, Huerter started 59 games in his first season alone - more than Walker has logged in his career - and was given the freedom to make mistakes and learn in real NBA minutes for a struggling Hawks team that simply lacked better options. Those are early opportunities that Walker was never afforded. And it's hard to pinpoint exactly what impact those opportunities could have had on Walker's development.
The pair's stats match up fairly well thus far. Walker averages 21.1 points per 100 possessions to Huerter's 18.1 but Huerter is the more efficient of the two, recording a career true shooting percentage of 54.2 percent to Walker's 51.3 percent. However, how much of that is directly attributed to Huerter himself, and how much can be attributed to the role he plays and the players around him?
Consider the impact that running alongside an attention-demanding player like Trae Young has had on Huerter. This season when Huerter and Young share the floor, Huerter shoots 42.9 percent from deep and 51.5 percent from the field. When Young is off the court, those numbers drop to 22.2 percent from behind the arc and 38.5 percent from the field.
Can you confidently say that if they traded places that Walker wouldn't thrive just as Huerter has? I don't think so. There are players that I think that the Spurs would have been better off using this draft pick on but Kevin Huerter isn't one of them.