2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers Player Review: Lonnie Walker IV
Lonnie Walker IV, Lakers
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers signed Lonnie Walker IV to a one-year contract for their taxpayer mid-level exception last summer and many questioned the move as he hadn’t shown much growth in his four years with the San Antonio Spurs. But Walker would become one of the most unbelievable stories of the Lakers season when everything was said and done.

At the beginning of the season, Walker was one of the most consistent Lakers players, starting the first 32 games of the year and averaging 14.7 points while knocking down 38.4% from 3-point range. Even though the Lakers were struggling, Walker was a bright spot early on as he showed an improved 3-point shot and an excellent ability to attack the basket while also playing better defense than most thought he was capable of.

But knee tendinitis kept him out of the lineup for 14 games and not long after he returned, the Lakers swung the huge trade that brought back D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt. These additions, along with the prior trade that brought in Rui Hachimura, as well as the development of Austin Reaves, pushed Walker out of Darvin Ham’s rotation completely with him averaging just 12.4 minutes after the All-Star break.

Rather than get down, however, Walker would keep working hard in practices and stay ready for his moment and that came when it mattered most in the postseason. With Malik Beasley and Troy Brown Jr. rendering themselves unplayable, Ham turned to Walker in Game 4 of the Lakers second round series against the Golden State Warriors and his play would lift the L.A. to a massive victory and eventually to the Western Conference Finals with Walker continuing to receive regular minutes for the remainder of the team’s postseason run.

2022-23 Highlight

There may be perhaps no easier choice for any player on the Lakers for the top highlight as Game 4 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals is for Walker. To that point, Walker hadn’t seen meaningful minutes in over a month, but with the Lakers down seven points going into the fourth quarter and desperately trying to maintain home court over the Warriors, he delivered.

Walker scored all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter, hitting 6-of-9 shots from the field, many of them being difficult, contested shots. The Lakers would come back to win the game and take a 3-1 lead over the Warriors and eventually win the series. The image of LeBron James and Anthony Davis embracing Walker right after the clock ran out is one of the most endearing of this entire Lakers season.

2023-24 Outlook

Walker will once again hit free agency this summer and with Rob Pelinka being open about his desire to return the core pieces of this team, it would make sense that the Lakers would like to bring him back. After what he showed in the postseason, Walker is expected to have some suitors in the open market and could get himself a nice contract.

The question is what is Walker looking for in terms of role on a team as well as money. At just 24 years old, Walker could prefer to go to a team where he can have a more consistent role than he had down the stretch with the Lakers, ultimately betting on himself to get a bigger contract down the line.

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