A Spurs legend is helping Lonnie Walker navigate his first NBA training camp, writes Jabari Young of The Athletic. Tim Duncan has served as a mentor to the rookie guard, helping him refine his game to get ready for the start of the season.
“It’s a little surreal,” Walker said. “But that’s probably one of the best things about being a rookie, especially being drafted by the Spurs. You have players who are [the] previous greatest of all-time, such as him and Manu [Ginobili], and they treat you like family.”
Walker admits to being awe-struck the first time he met Duncan, but their relationship has become much more comfortable. Duncan is seen as a teacher who happy to pass along advice to any Spurs player, and he has become a surrogate to coach Gregg Popovich.
“It’s nothing unusual for us to see,” long-time Spur Patty Mills said. “[It’s] that same characteristic that Manu has of being able to help younger guys for the better of the team. Just because he’s retired doesn’t mean that that trait can’t keep going.”
There’s more tonight from San Antonio:
- Popovich used numerous combinations in the preseason opener, but he seems fond of a second unit that provides a lot of floor spacing, Young adds in a separate story. The group had Mills on the floor along with Jakob Poeltl, Davis Bertans, Marco Belinelli and Bryn Forbes. “It’s a unit that can score,” Popovich said. “With Jakob in the post and shooters all around, it can be pretty interesting. We’re blessed with some people who can put it in the basket, and we want to put them in situations where they can use those skills.”
- The Spurs like the toughness that veteran forward Dante Cunningham brings to the court, relays Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio gave Cunningham a one-year, $2.5MM contract after deciding not to match the Grizzlies’ offer sheet for Kyle Anderson. Cunningham has been with six other teams during his nine-year NBA career, including the Pelicans and Nets last season. “I like to think I am more of a ball player than a position kind of guy — kind of short to be a center, kind of tall to be in a guardish-type situation,” he said. “But I kind of battle around and do a little bit of everything, I guess.”
- Second-rounder Chimezie Metu has made a quick impression on his teammates with his shot-blocking skills, with LaMarcus Aldridge calling him “a pogo stick,” Orsborn notes in another piece.