The Los Angeles Lakers were limited with their spending this summer. The cap space was gobbled up with major contracts between the Big 3, putting them in a precarious situation. It left one taxpayer midlevel exception, which L.A. used on former San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV.
League insiders were left split on Walker’s signing. He has yet to put it all together in his four-year career and lacks consistent shooting. The Lakers also reportedly considered Donte DiVincenzo with the deal, ultimately settling on Walker.
At 6-foot-4, Walker didn’t fit the Lakers’ need for a wing defender, but his athleticism and mentality make him an intriguing fit. The 3-point shooting (34.3% over his career) is a worry next to LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, but Walker doesn’t lack confidence in his shot.
What the Lakers have got in Walker is someone willing to sacrifice to win and defend at a high level. That can’t be said about everyone on the team, therefore, his willingness goes a long way. He also feels his time in San Antonio prepared him to fit right in with the Lakers.
Walker recently became the latest NBA player to compete in pro-am basketball, playing in the Hoopsville pro-am Sunday, via LakersEmpire:
Lonnie Walker’s 36 Point Highlights at Summer Pro-AM today pic.twitter.com/l3OiFtL5T0
— Lakers Empire (@LakersEmpire) July 25, 2022
Walker ended up with 34 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in the game.
It’s a short clip, but by hitting the three and cutting to the basket, Walker demonstrates two parts of his game that can allow him to fit alongside LeBron. It’s an encouraging sign, even though the competition at the pro-am is not as high as in the NBA.
So far, Walker has echoed his excitement to be in L.A. playing for a contender. The Spurs made the playoffs once in the four seasons Walker spent in San Antonio when the guard was a rookie. He played limited minutes, however, making his itch for competition legitimate.
Walker had career-high numbers last season averaging 12 points but on a poor 40% shooting from the field. His development will be something to monitor through the season.
Damian Jones envisions fit next to Anthony Davis
The Lakers hoped to experiment with Anthony Davis playing the five last season, but injuries hindered that idea. It seems L.A. is now hovering away from that as they signed former Lakers Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant. The two are contrasting centers with Bryant often settling for 3-pointers and Jones hanging around the paint.
Jones though said his fit alongside Davis will be similar to that of Javale McGee and Dwight Howard in 2020. Jones, like McGee and Howard, is a rim-protecting big with a lob threat. He can hover around the dunker spot while Davis posts up, offering the option for a dump-off if Davis is doubled.
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