The NBA Summer League is more than just a reason for basketball fans to hang out in Vegas in July. It’s also an opportunity for young, inexperienced players and borderline NBA talent to make enough of an impression on coaches and scouts across the league to give them a shot on an actual NBA roster. For 1st round draft picks, making an NBA roster seems like just a formality, but many take a little longer than expected to complete the jump from the college ranks to the NBA. Former Canes freshman phenom Lonnie Walker IV fell into that category.
Walker was drafted 18th overall by the San Antonio Spurs in 2018 after one season at Miami, where he led the team in scoring with 11.5 ppg. Still, many scouts had doubts about whether the Reading, PA native could improve his shot selection and dribbling enough to be productive at the next level. After some up and down performances in the Summer League, Lonnie Walker’s first season was knocked off track by a meniscus tear in his right knee. After recovering from his injury, Walker was assigned to the Austin Spurs of the G-League, where he would score 16.6 ppg in 29 games. He finally debuted for the San Antonio Spurs on January 3rd, 2019, but was unable to secure a regular spot in the rotation, averaging only 6.9 minutes and 2.3 points per game in 17 games played.
A general rule of thumb for the development of young NBA players is that much of their future success is predicated on the level of improvement from their first to second NBA seasons. This was not lost on Lonnie Walker IV, as he has been hard at work this offseason trying to improve his game and deliver on the expectations of Spurs fans when he was drafted in 2018. The 2019 Summer League was Walker’s first opportunity to show his improvement, and through 4 games, he has not disappointed.
So far this summer, Walker is putting up a stellar stat line of 24.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.5 blocks, 55% FG, and 38% 3PT. The 6’5” 205 lb shooting guard has been absolutely lethal off the dribble, knocking down midrange jumpers with ease, while also finishing at the rim through contact. His ability to create his own shot shows he has developed his handle to a more proficient level. Check out his highlights below:
7/1/19 97-89 W vs Cleveland - 20 pts, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 8/12, 0/2 3s
7/3/19 81-84 L vs Utah- 19 pts, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, 7/17, 1⁄4 3s
7/5/19 59-75 L vs Orlando - 28 pts, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 11/17, 0/1 3s
7/8/19 93-90 W vs Toronto - 32 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 12/23, 3/6 3s