The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping their infusion of youth and talent in the offseason can help them get back to the playoffs in 2022-23.
Their key addition in free agency was Lonnie Walker IV, who they signed using their taxpayer mid-level exception. Walker is a plus athlete who can create his own shot and has shown the ability to knock down 3s, though defensively he has left much to be desired during his young career.
Walker’s been limited in training camp so far with an ankle injury, but he recently practiced in full where head coach Darvin Ham said he looked healthy and great on the floor, via Jovan Buha of The Athletic:
Walker was a full participant in Saturday’s practice. Ham said he wants to see Walker alongside the starting group and in other lineups.
“Looked great defensively,” Ham said. “And offensively needs to catch up a little bit with what we’re doing. But he looked phenomenal out there. Just another athlete. A young player that can score the ball, a lockdown defender, rebound, is physical, tough, loves to set good screens. So, he’s another welcomed addition.”
It’s a bit surprising to see Ham say Walker has been looking solid defensively but lagging offensively, though perhaps that’s to be expected given his emphasis of the defensive end. The encouraging sign, however, is that Walker seems past his ankle injury and will be good to go for the remainder of training camp and the preseason.
The Lakers are banking on a bounce-back year from the young shooting guard who had an up-and-down year with the San Antonio Spurs during the 2021-22 campaign. If he’s able to truly hone in defensively, he should be able to carve out a role in what is shaping up to be a crowded backcourt rotation.
Lonnie Walker IV doesn’t feel address pressure of playing for Lakers
Playing in Los Angeles is a different beast compared to playing in smaller markets, an adjustment that Walker is surely aware of when he came in free agency. Fans and media are ruthless when it comes to player performance in the Purple and Gold, and if things don’t go well for Walker he could come under fire quickly.
Walker acknowledged it feels different playing for L.A., but revealed he hasn’t felt any added pressure so far.
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