After not impressing in his debut and missing San Antonio’s second game of the Utah Summer League, Lonnie Walker showed off the potential that tantalized the Spurs on Thursday. His 14 points helped propel his team to a 94-87 victory over the Summer Grizzlies.
Walker started against the Grizzlies after sitting out Tuesday’s game for rest. He was one of the main attractions of the game and didn’t disappoint. What made Walker an intriguing prospect was his budding outside shot and his athleticism. Both were on display against the Summer Grizzlies. The 18th pick of the 2018 draft connected on two of his four three-pointers — both in the first half — and had a beautiful alley-oop dunk in the closing quarter.
After forcing the issue in his pro debut against the Jazz, Walker seemed more comfortable this time around. It helped that he had Derrick White flanking him. The sophomore combo guard kept the Spurs in control all throughout the game. White had 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists and made five of his eight three-pointers. The young backcourt was too much for an undisciplined Grizzlies squad that collapsed in the second half by fouling constantly.
The Spurs finished their participation on the Utah Summer League with a 2-1 record. White was their best player by far, averaging 23 points, over six rebounds and seven assists. Now Las Vegas awaits. Hopefully the Summer Spurs’ young backcourt will continue to shine there.
- I’ve seen some concerns about White’s great Summer League performance not translating to actual games in the regular season. I wouldn’t be too worried. He’s hitting shots off the dribble, but also on spot up opportunities. His work on the pick and roll is clean and should actually improve if the defense is more concerned about better players. White doesn’t need the ball or to dribble for 15 seconds to get to his spots. His defense is not amazing but it’s solid. He should be able to transition into a 10-15 minutes a game role if the Spurs need him to next season, and do it well.
- It wasn’t all good for Lonnie. His handle needs a lot of work. There was a short stretch where he was asked to dribble the ball up court and even mild pressure made him uncomfortable. When he tries to attack, he can be too loose with the ball. It’s understandable. He’s just 19 years old. He’s not a finished product. Hopefully he’ll continue to work on his floor game to the point where it’s a strength and not a weakness. There’s time. For now, I’m going to enjoy watching his work in transition and his shot making ability.
- Chimezie Metu was one point and one rebound shy of a double-double. Once again he had a couple of moments in which he looked special on both ends. Those moments are too sporadic right now to truly get excited about him helping the team anytime soon, but they are there. Not bad for a second round pick, even if it’s just Summer League. If he can add some strength and get his range to extend to the three-point line, he could be a steal. I’m excited to see how he looks in Las Vegas. He needs the reps.
- The Spurs gave Olivier Hanlan some extended run in this one and he did fine. The 25-year-old combo guard finished the game with eight points, five rebounds and four assists. If the Spurs decide to shut down White early in Vegas, they have a good replacement in tow.
- Jaron Blossomgame was solid again, but didn’t show anything new. He took just one three-pointer, which he made, and dished out three assists. Yet it’s still hard to see him making the team without being a bigger offensive threat in the half court.
- The veterans were all decent. Cory Jefferson made a couple of threes and played solid defense. Jeff Ledbetter hit three of his five outside shots. Trey McKinney-Jones hit one three-pointer and had an assist. They are doing what they are expected to do, and it’s helping the younger players.
- Drew Eubanks had the best performance out of the Summer Spurs’ two young centers. Eubanks was in the right place on defense and continued to be productive, logging seven points and three rebounds in 11 minutes. Amida Brimah didn’t make a big impact this time. I doubt either of these two has even an outside chance at a two-way contract but both are interesting enough that I want to see them in Austin next season. Let’s see who does better in Vegas.
- Jaren Jackson Jr., the fourth pick of the draft, had a tough night. He struggled with the Spurs’ physicality and Metu got the best of him a couple of times on both ends. I still think he’s going to be a star. He knows how to use his athleticism. He should be a solid third big man for Memphis this season.