SAN ANTONIO — The start of the Spurs 2021-22 season is nearing and Lonnie Walker IV will likely find himself as the team's new sixth man off the bench.
A role that franchise great Manu Ginobili embraced during his time in San Antonio.
Now with Ginobili back with the team as a player-development coach, Walker is taking full advantage and isn't letting the opportunity slip by to learn from the best.
Even if it means pestering the Spurs great.
"He's kind of tired of me," Walker joked during a recent media session. "I'm like a gnat on his ear, 'Hey Manu! Hey Manu.'"
Walker played five preseason games with the bulk of them in a reserve role.
He finished with an average of 7.8 points per game, 34-percent shooting from the field, and 22-percent shooting from the three-point line in 20.8 minutes per game.
The Spurs will be looking to him to provide a spark off the bench on both ends of the floor just as Ginobili did.
"I'm going to keep picking his brain," said Walker. "That's the best thing about being a part of the Spurs organization, You have great people around you 24/7."
Walker will be expected to do more heading into his fourth NBA season. He'll be out to show he is ready to take the next step in his development after the team did not extend his contract this past week.
Becoming a consistent player will be job No. 1 but also to show he is capable of knocking down outside shots and not heavily relying on his incredible athleticism on the court.
Fortunately, Ginobili will be readily available for Walker to use as a guide to help him further along.
"Just making the game easier. Not trying to overcomplicate it," said Walker about what Ginobili has told him. "Too much dribbling, back cuts, pick and roll, and just being real decisive."
Walker will enter restricted free agency this offseason.
Showing development in his all-around game will benefit him whether it is with the Spurs or on another team after the season.
He has the support of his teammates and the confidence to get the job done.
And perhaps one of Ginobili's early pointers offered to the Spurs 2018 draft pick may be exactly what will give him that push to be a better player: Have fun.
"Just have with it," said Walker.