The 2022 Rodeo Road Trip was a sensational one for Lonnie Walker IV. He scored 17+ points in six straight games, and his 30-point performance at home last night against Sacramento extended that streak to seven.
Lonnie has shown flashes of his scoring ability throughout his career. He’s pulled off absurdly acrobatic lay-ups like this one many times:
It’s shot-making that has held him back from reaching sparkplug status. He shoots 34% from three for his career, and has struggled to find consistency. That hasn’t been a problem lately though as he’s hitting 40% of his deep-range tries across his last seven outings as well as mid-range pull-ups like this one that make his scoring even more dynamic.
Lonnie’s production and confidence are skyrocketing, and he’s becoming the player fans thought he could be when he was drafted. That’s exactly what a young, rebuilding team like the Spurs wants.
There is a decision to be made this summer, as Lonnie is entering restricted free agency. At the beginning of the season, it seemed likely that San Antonio would let him leave. Now, with the way he’s been playing lately, that probably won’t be the case. I think they should definitely try to retain Lonnie.
How much is he worth? If he continues his increased production, there will be a team out there that offers him $15+ million per year. That’s reasonable considering the contracts other young players get nowadays.
However, I’m not convinced the Spurs should give him that money. I believe Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson are the long term starters at Lonnie’s positions. While Lonnie does seem like the sixth-man bucket-getter type of guy, $15+ million is a hefty price to pay for a bench piece (especially if he’s not a sure thing going forward). Giving him the big bucks could also make it harder to pay other key pieces down the line.
I want to him to be resigned. I would miss him if he left, he’s an exciting player to watch.
It’s been a blast to watch Lonnie Walker come into his own over the last couple weeks. He’s a really solid player when he’s playing with confidence and I’m rooting for him to keep it up. Go get your bag, Lonnie!