After being called out by San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich for not being competitive early in the season, Lonnie Walker IV has been proving he has plenty of competitiveness in him.
In his last three games, Walker is averaging 8.0 points, and 55-percent shooting in 10.2 minutes. He scored a season-high 11 points and went 5-of-8 from the field in 13 minutes of action against Minnesota this season.
He's showing he is ready to make an impact on the team when his number is called.
“It's just how I am," Walker said. "You have to stay ready so you don't have to prepare to be ready."
Against the Pistons, Walker was ready and then some.
In the Spurs loss, he came out and scored 13 points in 16 minutes off the bench.
"Day in and day out I'm still going to play my game, I'm still going to have the same confidence," Walker said.
As per Cleaning The Glass, when slotted at shooting guard spot, Walker owns an effective field goal percentage at 51.2-percent. He also rebounds 32-percent of team misses and the Spurs are a +39.8 in efficiency differential when he is on the court.
In addition, he makes an impact on defense.
Cleaning The Glass calculates that when he's at the shooting guard spot, he holds opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 39.7-percent and 22.9-percent of the time, the player he defends turns the ball over.
And it is his defense that he continues to improve on as the season moves forward.
“Just to be a stopper," Walker said. "Just fighting over screens, being aggressive, getting up under people, being annoying, just the whole nine yards of being that little gnat defensively.”
Walker may be demonstrating he deserves more time on the court, but he is still working on getting better.
Offensively, Synergy Sports ranks him a mere 12-percent in the NBA in the half-court offense. In this situation, he's connected on 35-percent of his shots. When he is the primary ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, Synergy Sports ranks him in the bottom 12-percent in the NBA in these situations where he scores only 30-percent of the time.
Defensively, he ranks in the bottom ninth percentile in the NBA overall per Synergy Sports.
"I still have things to improve on," Walker said.
Keep in mind these numbers may be skewed considering the small sample size in the limited minutes Walker has played. Through 17 games played, he’s only averaging 5.8 minutes per game this season.
But there is plenty of smile about his potential so far this season.
His athleticism is off the charts, he brings a spark on the court, he's unafraid to attack the rim and shows promise on both ends of the floor. If given increased minutes, Walker could become a significant contributor for San Antonio.
Currently, his per 36 minutes stats are eye-opening at 15.5 points, 41-percent shooting, 2.7 assists, and 5.8 rebounds.
When he does get Time on the court, he makes the most of them but until he sees a significant spike in minutes, Walker will continue to trust the San Antonio process.
"I trust my team, I trust my coaches, and as a team we just got to find it," Walker said.