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'Manu has really helped me' | Spurs' Lonnie Walker IV overjoyed he's learning from Manu Ginobili

Ginobili has taken Walker under his wing this season.

SAN ANTONIO — Since the post-All-Star break, guard Lonnie Walker IV has shown the Spurs how much of an asset he can be as the franchise goes through its rebuild.

Walker has shown a spike in production for the with averages of 16.2 points per game along with 2.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 45% shooting, and 38% shooting from the three-point line following the All-Star break.

And he thanks Spurs great, Manu Ginobili, for being more consistent on the court and so much more.

"When I was kind of in my slumps and having my ups and downs and everything, he was one of the main people that really wanted me to be consistent with my confidence and just grow from it all," Walker said at the La Vernia High School "Never Give Up" rally.

Ahead of the 2021-22 season, the Spurs announced Ginobili would be hired as a special advisor to basketball operations with a focus on the development of players on and off the court.

This season, he's taken Walker under his wing, passing on his lessons which made him one of the team's greatest players and Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame bound.

"It's surreal, honestly," Walker said. "I still can't even comprehend it to this day."

Walker's incredible athleticism, ability to finish at the rim, and career-highs in points per game (12.1), assists (2.2) and total steals (currently at 39), he has made strides on both ends of the floor in his fourth season and more importantly, he is becoming more consistent.

Credit: AP
San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV (1) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Recently, he scored 20-plus points in three-straight games (March 12-16), and scored in double-figures in 10 of 11 games from Feb.12 to March 16.

He is impacting both ends of the court, just as his mentor, Ginobili, did when he laced up his sneakers for the Spurs.

"Manu has really helped me just stay its course and stay confident through it all," said Walker.

A deeper dive shows how much Walker has seen growth in his development.

According to Cleaning The Glass, he's shown a decrease in turning the ball over. He ranks in the 81st percentile in Turnover Percentage at his position, and is fouling less this season ranking in the 76th percentile in Foul Percentage at his position.

He's also seen growth in his short midrange shot percentage (shots outside of four feet but inside 14 feet) currently ranking in the 76th percentile at his position.

Ginobili's tutelage is paying off for Walker but what makes things come full circle is that he's been a fan of the Spurs great even before he was wearing the Silver and Black jersey.

RELATED: Spurs' Manu Ginobili will be a first-ballot induction into Basketball Hall of Fame, according to reports

"I used to play with this dude [Ginobili] on NBA 2K every other day. You can ask anyone, I've played with Spurs," Walker said. "I only use Manu to score. I only use them [Spurs]." 

Said Walker: "It's funny how things come in for a circle so to speak."

One of the bigger offseason storylines will be the NBA future of Walker.

He will be a restricted free agent and should any team make him an offer, the Spurs have the option to either match or decline. They could also make him an offer.

The 23-year old is now consistent, confident, and is becoming a valuable asset for the Spurs off the bench. He has the team's corporate knowledge and is seen as part of the franchise's young core along with Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Dejounte Murray.

But no matter where his next stop will be in his pro-career, Walker has learned plenty from Ginobili that he will carry with him forever.

"Most of these losses, they're not losses. They're lessons. And you got to grow from it," Walker said of the lessons Ginobili is passing on to him. "To continue to learn from your lessons."

Twitter: @KENS5, @JeffGSpursKENS5

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