The San Antonio Spurs have selected Lonnie Walker in the 2018 NBA draft with the No. 18 overall pick.
He got off to a late start after suffering a knee injury the summer before his freshman season. But once Walker started to build some rhythm, his athleticism and scoring started to show. All signs point to the explosive 2-guard being a more effective pro than college player.
Size: 6'4 ½"
Weight: 196.2 pounds
Wingspan: 6'10 ¼"
Reach: 8'3 ½"
Pro-player comparison: Zach LaVine
Walker was most effective in action toward the basket, specifically working from off the ball, having finished nine of 10 basket cuts. Out of spot-ups, he was dangerous driving right, converting nine of 18 attempts. On the ball, he isn't overly creative, but he still managed to convert 11 of 24 isolation opportunities, showing the ability to rise and fire or pull up in his man's face. Around the perimeter, Walker only shot 34.6 percent on three-pointers, but the eye test warns not to overthink the numbers. He has a smooth, confident shooting stroke. His jumper is poised to become the biggest weapon in his bag.
Walker can separate into step-backs and get to the hoop in a straight line, but he lacks an advanced off-the-dribble game. He leaned on having to make tough jumpers or off-balance shots on the move. He ranked in the 42nd percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, not demonstrating high-level playmaking ability. Walker's touch needs work, as he only made four of 15 runners and 50.7 percent of his attempts at the basket.
Walker has promising defensive tools and quickness, and at some point, he has the chance to be a tough perimeter defender. He wasn't consistently locked in at Miami, however. His effort level isn't always there on his closeouts, and he'll give up too easily when screened. More emphasis from NBA coaches should help fix the issue. Walker just needs to become more disciplined. He has the natural ability to contain in space and guard both backcourt positions.
Walker could surprise with more space and better teammates who can allow him to play to his strengths as a shot-maker and opportunistic driver. He'll go through rough patches at both ends, but he's going to flash glimpses that highlight his ability to explode above the rim and catch fire for stretches.
Projected role: Quality starter
Walker's ceiling is theoretically star-level high, but he'd have to suddenly evolve into a threatening playmaker or take off as a volume scorer the way Donovan Mitchell did. Between his athleticism, shot-making and defensive potential, "quality starting shooting guard" is a more reasonable best-case projection. Walker has a strong foundation to build from, and at 19 years old, there is a long enough window to add considerable skill.