Lonnie Walker confident he can improve Lakers’ 3-point shooting

When asked about the decline in his three-point shooting percentage last season, the look in his eye Lonnie Walker IV was certain of his stroke when he spoke on Wednesday during an introductory press conference with Lakers.

Walker showed no signs of faltering in confidence when he revealed his 31.4% three-point shooting with the San Antonio Spurs in 2021-22, the lowest in his four-year career.

The Lakers were one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA last season, finishing 22nd with 34.7%. So, they identified and then signed Walker as a free agent to help the Lakers get better in that department.

“I mean, last year you can look at the percentages, but I’m not kidding: leave me open, we’ll see what happens. Okay, Walker said.

Walker joined Troy Brown Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damien Jones and Thomas Bryant at the Lakers’ base in El Segundo to sign their contracts, all the new faces are younger and more athletic players than the Lakers signed in last year’s poor season.

The Lakers gave the 23-year-old Walker their biggest free agent contract they’ve ever had, short of a $6.5 million average. He is shooting 34.3% in his career from 3-point shooting and last season he averaged 12.1 points per game for the Spurs.

Walker said he was “ready to show everyone what I do”.

And he’ll do it by working as hard as he did in San Antonio when the shot betrayed him earlier in the season.

He shot 29.4% from three-pointers before the All-Star break and 36.7% after.

San Antonio Spurs defenseman Lonnie Walker IV hits a three-pointer through Portland Trail Blazers defenseman Chris Dunn.

San Antonio Spurs defenseman Lonnie Walker IV hits a three-pointer through Portland Trail Blazers defenseman Chris Dunn in the second half on April 1 in San Antonio.

(Nick Wagner/Associated Press)

Thus, confidence.

“I just stayed at the gym, it’s that simple,” Walker said. “Everyone has theirs — not everyone — but you have your ups and downs. This is how you bounce back from it. After the games, when I had bad games, I then went to the gym. I would go straight to my object to shoot.

“Before training, after training, I stayed with him. I knew that sooner or later one of them would turn, and later, in the end, it happened.

Since Bryant was a rookie last time with the Lakers, playing in 15 games in 2017-18, he has developed his game and had to overcome a serious injury.

He suffered a left anterior cruciate ligament tear while playing with the Washington Wizards, causing him to miss 368 days and limited him to just 27 games last season.

He says the knee is “bad, great.”

The 24-year-old Bryant improved his game to the point where he became a solid 5-pointer, his 3-point shooting up to 35% in his first five seasons.

Not bad for a center who doesn’t care about the ACL injury that took him out of the game.

“I knew it was 100% when I wasn’t thinking about it,” said Bryant, who averaged 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds over his career. “That’s the problem. When I stopped thinking about my knee and worrying about it and just allowed myself to play basketball, I got over it in a couple of practices, a couple of games, a couple of dunks.

“Once you do a couple of dunks and get knocked down once, you get the feeling back and that’s when I knew I was 100% ready.”