The Los Angeles Lakers were able to put together a great roster over the summer that brought back core pieces from last year’s team while also making improvements around the edges. For many, this Lakers roster represented one of the deepest in franchise history.
That being said, it was not a perfect offseason nor is this a perfect roster. There were mistakes that the Lake Show made during the summer and some of those mistakes have shown up early on this season as the team is currently below .500.
It hasn’t just shown up in the Lakers’ play, though. Part of the Lakers’ mistakes was letting certain role players walk and they have been proving the Lakers wrong early on this season. There is no more obvious example than Lonnie Walker IV, who has been tearing it up for the Brooklyn Nets thus far this season.
Lakers letting Lonnie Walker IV walk is getting worse by the day
Hindsight is always 20/20 but there were plenty of reasons to bring Lonnie Walker IV back into the fold. Granted, he was not a perfect player and he did leave more to be desired on the defensive end but he delivered for the purple and gold whenever the team needed it.
Walker was a marquee breakout player for the Lakers early in the season who eventually got drowned out of the rotation once the team made all of its deadline acquisitions. Even then, the poor play of Malik Beasley forced Darvin Ham to turn to Walker in the playoffs and the results spoke for themselves.
Without Walker, the Lakers may not have even made it to the Western Conference Finals. In a pivotal Game 4, Walker went scorched earth and scored 15 points in the fourth quarter to give the Lakers a 3-1 lead over the Golden State Warriors. If the Lakers fell to 2-2 in that series there was no guarantee that they would have won it.
Walker did enough to at least be considered by the Lakers in the offseason but it did not appear like the team wanted anything to do with him. It wasn’t like Walker got priced out of LA, like Malik Monk did two summers ago. Instead, he signed a minimum deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
While Walker talked up the Nets after signing with the team there is a good chance that he would have simply returned to the Lakers with a better chance of winning a ring if the team offered him a contract. Chances are the Lakers didn’t offer him a deal.
Would Walker have put up the same numbers in Los Angeles that he is putting up in Brooklyn? Maybe not. But he would have been a far better option to have as two-guard depth over Cam Reddish, who is shooting 15% from three this season.
It is early in the season but Reddish has posted an awful -5.7 Box Plus/Minus this season (zero is considered average). For comparison, Walker has posted a 2.8 BPM. Walker is averaging 21.7 minutes per game, Reddish is averaging 19.6.
This is a mistake that the Lakers are going to have to live with all season as Walker will likely continue to tear it up. The only hope is that Reddish can turn this disastrous start around or that Max Christie can become NBA rotation-ready.