Lakers star Anthony Davis agreed with the media Wednesday night, saying few had seen Lonnie Walker IV play much the last four seasons for the struggling San Antonio Spurs and few were aware of his well-rounded game.
Other than the scouting report when the Lakers played the Spurs, Davis said, “I didn’t watch too much San Antonio, either.”
Now that they are teammates, Davis has seen that Walker is explosive, competitive and highly skilled.
Before Walker sprained his left ankle in the third quarter of the Lakers’ 118-113 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Crypo.com Arena on Wednesday night, the 6-5 guard was cooking.
“He was playing extremely well and getting to the basket and finishing, making the right reads,” Davis said. “Honestly, I didn’t know he was that good of a passer. He can really pass the ball, which surprised me. Not from a sense of he can’t do it, I just never knew. But he played really well before he went down. And coming off that injury with his ankle [in training camp], we were all curious to see how he was going go play until he got his legs back under him. And he played well tonight. Hopefully he’s fine to be ready to go on the 18th.”
Oct. 18 is when the Lakers open the regular season against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.
Here are more takeaways from the Lakers’ loss to Minnesota:
Patrick Beverley lost his balance and fell into Walker’s leg, sending the guard to the court in pain and eventually into the locker room with 5 minutes 31 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Lakers soon announced that Walker had a mild left ankle sprain and would not return.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham said Walker would be re-evaluated Thursday and “then we’ll go from there.”
“I asked him if he was OK and he said ‘Yeah, I’ll be fine,’” Ham said. “What they’re saying is that it’s mild. But we’ll see. It could be totally different when he wakes up in the morning.”
Early in the first quarter, Walker eased his way up the court, surveyed the court, and then in one quick motion threw a pass to a cutting LeBron James for a layup.
In the third quarter, Walker cut to the basket and received a pass from Davis, but his path to the basket was cut off by a Minnesota defender. Walker didn’t panic, keeping his patience to find a cutting James, who was fouled on the play.
Walker had just one assist, but he was decisive in his actions. He finished with 12 points on five-of-11 shooting and three rebounds in 18 minutes 34 seconds in a starting role.
“He’s a guy that can move around, get downhill,” Ham said. “He’s a guy that’s going to try to defend the best of them, take a challenge — [Minnesota’s] Anthony Edwards. He’s a guy that’s not going to give up. There’s no quit in that kid and you saw it. He just makes plays athletically, through the paint, offensive rebounds, putting pressure on the glass. Again, making threes from the perimeter.
“I think he’s a great, welcome addition, in terms of how dynamic he is as a player and hopefully his ankle is OK. But he’s going to take our competitiveness, our energy, he’s going to take that up a level. … He’s going to thrive in that system.”
The Lakers claimed they were not worried about their sorry three-point shooting against the Timberwolves.
Maybe they should be. They shot one of 17 from three-point range in the first half and finished 10 of 39 (25.5%).
Last season, the Lakers shot 34.7% from three-point range, ranking 22nd in the NBA.
“We don’t care what people pay attention to. We know what we want to accomplish on a game-to-game basis,” said James, who was two of four from three-point range. “At the end of the day, you’re gonna have games where you make it, and you’re gonna have games where you don’t make it and you got great looks. But most important is our effort, and how we defend. And if we defend, we’re gonna give ourselves a chance to win every single night no matter if the ball’s going in or not.”