Lonnie Walker IV is in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers and fifth NBA campaign. And although things haven’t gone according to plan for the Lakers thus far, they are still firmly in contention to make the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
If the Lakers are successful in making it to the postseason, it would be Walker’s second appearance in late April and first as a regular contributor. He made the playoffs in 2019 with the San Antonio Spurs, playing in six of the team’s seven first-round games against the Denver Nuggets.
So as the Lakers enter the final stretch of the regular season, Walker is keeping a close eye on the team’s place in the Western Conference postseason picture. After Friday night’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Walker was asked how often he checks the standings.
“A lot. I want to be in the playoffs. My rookie year was the only time I got to embrace the playoffs. I didn’t get to play but being in that atmosphere was a great experience,” Walker said. “I’m craving for it. I know exactly where we are before the game which is in 10th maybe per say but I want to be in the playoffs, that’s always been my thing. I think it all comes with just embracing it. This is a new situation for a lot of us so we got to rely on each other much more.”
Walker may actually be an instrumental figure in getting the Lakers to the playoffs. With LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell out of the lineup for the time being, Walker has stepped into the regular guard rotation with Dennis Schroder, Malik Beasley and Austin Reaves.
In his last three games since Russell and James’ injuries, Walker is averaging 22.1 minutes per game with 14.7 points while shooting a red-hot 44.4% from three. This level of play will need to be sustained until at least Russell can make his way back to the lineup.
The Lakers need consistent contributions from their entire roster if they’re going to push past one of the New Orleans Pelicans, Utah Jazz, L.A. Clippers, Timberwolves or even Dallas Mavericks in the final 18-game stretch.
Jarred Vanderbilt: Lakers fighting for our lives
Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt is another L.A. role player to speak about the team getting to the playoffs. The trade deadline acquisition focused specifically on the effort and focus it will take to get into the bracket during the final 18 games of the season.
He said that the Lakers are fighting for their lives and will need to play that way regardless of who is or isn’t in the lineup.
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