Lonnie Walker IV is emerging as a breakout star for the Los Angeles Lakers, quickly becoming a major part of their offense in 2022-23.
Walker clocks 31.3 minutes per game, spending over half an hour on the court every night as the only Lakers player not named LeBron James or Anthony Davis. He’s also L.A.’s third-best scorer, putting up 16.6 points per contest and shooting a respectable 35% for 3 on the season — which has surged to 51.5% over the last seven games.
But Walker has also done a great job at utilizing his athleticism to score near the basket, averaging 4.3 points off drives into the paint, fewer only than James and Russell Westbrook. Lakers head coach Darvin Ham says the 23-year-old’s offensive versatility has been a major weapon for L.A. this season.
Ham adds he wants Walker to keep up the aggressiveness in his game. “Just his ability to play downhill, to make passes,” the Lakers head coach says of the guard’s areas of growth.
“He can score at all three levels — 3s, pull-up shots, whether it’s a pull-up jump shot or floater, and obviously we know what he can do at the rim. So just having those combos with an empty corner pick-and-roll with him and AD on the wing or whatever, and we’re spaced in such a way where that guy who’s shifted off the guy at the top of the weakside, he’s got to make a decision. And that’s an easy little kick out play so when you have Austin on the second side or Russ on the second side with a quick drive, they also can drive and kick.
“So just his timing, him understanding what we want and him again, that burst, not settling. That’s been the biggest thing for him and just his aggressiveness in that action.”
Ham also praises Walker’s attitude and modest personality, making him a joy to work with for the first-year head coach. “He’s a genuine guy, man,” Ham says.
“He’s a genuine guy that’s been through a lot in his life. Just genuine. It’s a pleasure to be around him, just a quiet, lowkey-spirited guy. Always positive energy.
“I enjoy coaching the kid, I enjoy having conversations with him, I enjoy just being around him, coming to the gym and seeing him there every day. He’s that type of kid. It’s beautiful to watch him just grow in front of our eyes even more and just take it day by day and just continue to add to his confidence and add to his repertoire.
“Him starting to understand time, score and situations has been another fun thing to watch.”
Walker credits teammates for instilling confidence in him
Walker says he’s been playing with lots of confidence recently, as evidenced by his stats. But the former San Antonio Spurs prospect doesn’t want to take all the credit for his fine form, saying his teammates’ support has been a major factor behind his good play.
“When you got great teammates who are continuing to instill that confidence and allow you to be aggressive, it only makes the game easier,” the shooting guard said.
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