When asked about a drop in his three-point shooting percentage last season, the look in Lonnie Walker IV’s eyes was one of confidence in his batting as he spoke to the Lakers during his inaugural press conference on Wednesday.
Walker showed no sign of confidence as he spoke with the San Antonio Spurs about his 31.4 percent three-point shooting in the 2021-22 season, the lowest of his four-year career.
The Lakers were one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA last season, ranking 22nd with 34.7%. So they identified and signed Walker as a free agent to help the Lakers improve in that department.
“I mean, last year you can look at the percentages, but I’m not kidding: leave me frank, we’ll see what happens. All right,” Walker said.
Walker had joined Troy Brown Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damien Jones and Thomas Bryant at the Lakers facility in El Segundo to sign their contracts, all new faces – younger and more athletic players than the Lakers who failed in the failed season of last year were signed.
The Lakers gave the 23-year-old Walker their largest free-agent contract they’ve had, except for a mid-level $6.5 million. He is a 34.3 percent career three-pointer and had a career-best 12.1 points per game for Spurs last season.
Walker said he’s “ready to show everyone what I’m about.”
And he’ll do that by working hard, just like he did in San Antonio when his shot gave him away earlier in the season.
He shot 29.4% from three-point range before the All-Star break and 36.7% after it.
Hence the trust.
“I just stayed in the gym, it’s that simple,” Walker said. “Everyone has their – not everyone – but you have your ups and downs. This is how you recover from it. After games, if I had bad games, I would go to the gym afterwards. I would go straight to my facility to shoot.
“Before training and after training, I stuck with it. Sooner or later I knew someone was going to turn, and eventually they did.”
Since the Lakers last had Bryant as a rookie when he played in 15 games during the 2017-18 season, he has been developing his game while overcoming a serious injury.
While playing for the Washington Wizards, he suffered a left anterior cruciate ligament tear that kept him out 368 days and limited him to just 27 games last season.
He says the knee is “not good, great”.
Bryant, 24, has improved his game to the point where he’s become a reliable stretch five, his three-point shooting increasing as much as 35% in his first five seasons.
Not bad for a center who isn’t worried about the ACL injury that kept him sidelined.
“I knew it was 100% back when I wasn’t thinking about it,” said Bryant, who has averaged 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds over his career. “That was the thing. When I stopped thinking and worrying about my knee and just let the basketball game take me away, I got over it in a few drills, a few plays, and a few dunks.
“Once you get a few dunks and get knocked down once, you get that feeling back and I knew I was 100%.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/story/2022-07-06/lakers-lonnie-walker-three-point-shooting-thomas-bryant Lonnie Walker confident he can improve Lakers’ 3-point shooting