Over the last few seasons, Lonnie Walker IV has been an athletic wing that has come off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs without too high of expectations. In four seasons with the Spurs, his highest PPG average was 12.1.
Walker has always been the type of player that relied on his athleticism to get him points and to keep him afloat on the defensive end. Unfortunately, he lacked efficiency with his jump shot and didn’t show excessive amounts of development with the Spurs on a year-to-year basis. He improved in many categories, but the margins were small.
As a result, the Los Angeles Lakers used their Taxpayer’s Mid-Level Exception, which is roughly $6.5 million, on Walker with the hope that he could fill a lost void, and he has exceeded that so far through the early part of this year.
Lonnie Walker IV has since blossomed with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Not only has he become a better defender, Lonnie Walker IV has developed skills and traits that he can use that can complement his athletic nature. In addition, he doesn’t have to rely on it to carry his way through the season.
Walker is having a career year in three-point attempts, three-point makes, free throw percentage, points, and field goal percentage. He also averages the most minutes per game in his career at 31.0.
The Lakers have needed this type of production from a wing. Last year, they got it from Malik Monk. Still, Lonnie Walker has the capabilities to be even more helpful than that due to his defensive presence. He has drastically improved since joining a Darvin Ham unit; he specified how essential everyone buying in on the defensive end would be when he accepted the job, and the Lakers have delivered.
Despite a losing record, the Lakers have been stout on defense so far and have had one of the better ratings in the league. Walker has been a big part of that. His jump from last year to this year is quite incredible, considering he wasn’t playing with ball-demanding players like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis like he is this year. But it has seemed like that has worked for him having guys who can put him in a position to be successful and get good looks consistently.
Lonnie Walker has already had 12 games with ten or more points and has had multiple games over 20 points this season. That is exactly what the Lakers needed from a production standpoint, and the question is whether he can stay consistent throughout the rest of the year.
Los Angeles Lakers fans have begged for the team to make one specific Russell Westbrook trade and the team might have waited too long.
Currently, you could make a serious case that Walker has been the 3rd most crucial player for Los Angeles. Of course, Westbrook could still hold that spot and does play a very key role since joining the bench unit, but either way, Lonnie Walker has made an extraordinary leap from his days in San Antonio to where he is now.