Philadelphia 76ers: Lonnie Walker is fool’s gold for Philly

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

With a flush of talent available at the 10th overall pick, the Philadelphia 76ers should avoid drafting Reading native Lonnie Walker.

Much has been written about who the Philadelphia 76ers should select with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Whether it be selecting local fan favorite Mikal Bridges, moving up to select Luka Doncic, or even trading the pick away to acquire a proven NBA superstar, it seems like everyone has an opinion as to what the best course of action is for the Sixers.

However, one player the team should avoid selecting at 10 is Miami guard Lonnie Walker.

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Now don’t get me wrong, Walker is a solid player, a local prospect with the quick burst to attack the hoop, and a reported 6-foot-10 wingspan, but he’s just not a great fit on Brett Brown‘s roster.

Standing 6-foot-4, 192 pounds, Walker can only really play two positions at the NBA level, point guard, and shooting guard, but unfortunately, he likely can’t slot into either position from day one.

While Walker does have the size, speed, and athleticism to play point guard in the NBA, and could be a solid defender right away, he was very seldom asked to actually take the ball up the court in college, often deferring to his teammate Bruce Brown to bring the ball up the court and facilitate the offense. This, when coupled with his inexperience running the pick and roll, a role he should conceivably thrive in, simply makes Walker a major project at point guard moving forward.

No, if Walker is going to have a long, productive career in the NBA it will have to be at shooting guard, but to be a starting caliber shooting guard in the NBA you have to be able to knock down shots from three points range.

Walker isn’t particularly effective at that either.

Over his 32 game career at The U, Walker only made 1.8 of the 5.1 shots he attempted from three-point range each game, good for a below average 34.6 percent.

Though some will be quick to point out that his stats were negatively affected by a late summer knee injury that required surgery, but in his lone season at Miami, Walker looked much more like a smaller Demar Derozan than a more athletic J.J. Redick, and typically shooters don’t get more efficient when they move from the college ranks to the NBA, it usually goes the other way.

While this inability to handle the ball and still developing shot obviously isn’t a deal-breaker, as some team will more than likely select Walker in the first round of the 2018 NBA draft, if not in the lottery, it does highlight why he’s such a bad fit with the 76ers.

Outside of being named one of the most overrated prospects in the entire draft is ESPN’s Draft Analytics model, ranked 33rd overall with a 30 percent chance of being a total bust, Walker’s skill set simply overlaps way too much with current combo guard Markelle Fultz. Both stand roughly 6-foot-4, are very fast, but lack a viable NBA-level outside shot, but unlike Walker, Fultz can actually run the point.

While Fultz is apparently on the outs with the organization, and may not even survive the draft, it would be incredibly shortsighted to select his replacement 10th overall, especially if players like Mikal Bridges, Kevin Knox, or Michael Porter Jr. (all objectively better fits) are still on the board. Sure, Philly does need talented players to continue to progress towards their ultimate goal of winning an NBA Championship, but they also need to surround Ben Simmons with knockdown shooters to run their offense at peak efficiency, ultimately making Walker a poor fit for their scheme as it’s presently constructed.

Next: Are the Sixers trying to trade up for Luka Doncic?

Though he could transition swimmingly into the NBA and become the next Donovan Mitchell, a dream scenario for a team picking in the back half of the lottery, it looks like Walkers’ ceiling is that of a dynamic sixth man scorer off the bench, a luxury for a Philadelphia 76es team with much more pressing needs.