The first game Lonnie Walker IV missed this season came on Opening Night. The vet-minimum signing was a healthy DNP, riding pine behind fellow reserve guards Cam Thomas and Dennis Smith Jr.
Five weeks later, a healthy scratch for Walker would have been unthinkable. Following a rash of injuries across the roster, Walker assured the Brooklyn Nets hardly missed a beat, averaging 14.6 points in just 21 minutes a night. Over the next 17 games, Walker shot 46% from three, seemingly checking into each game with six points.
So when Walker missed his second game of the season on December 2, a comfortable Nets win against the Orlando Magic, it certainly wasn't a healthy scratch. Brooklyn had ruled him out with a left hamstring strain on the initial injury report. At Tuesday's practice, Jacque Vaughn updated the media on Walker’s status, and made it clear we won’t see the dynamic guard against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, and likely beyond.
Said Vaughn: “Lonnie’s got the hamstring, so Lonnie’s situation: He will not travel with us to Atlanta, and all signs pointing towards him not playing on the West Coast trip, and having some more information about that after we get back from the West Coast trip.”
As a refresher, here is Brooklyn’s schedule following their matchup with the Hawks on Wednesday:
If Walker misses the entirety of Brooklyn’s West Coast swing, that would total eight consecutive absences; his next chance to play would be a December 20 matchup with the New York Knicks at the Barclays Center.
Vaughn confirmed that Walker underwent imaging on the injured hamstring, but did not specify whether the strain was considered grade 1 or grade 2. Per Jeff Stotts of InStreetClothes.com, “the average time lost for nondescript hamstring strains in the NBA was 12 days” last season.
The Nets’ December 20 game against the Knicks would mark an 18-day recovery period for Walker; with that being the best-case scenario, it appears his injury is no minor inconvenience.
Prior to missing the Orlando game, Walker appeared on the injury report just once. He was questionable with “left knee soreness” — the same leg as this hamstring injury — prior to a November 4 game against the Boston Celtics, but he powered through it to score 13 points.
Later in the month, he discussed playing through significant pain in that knee, but that it was subsiding:
Lonnie Walker said he's been playing through significant knee pain since Brooklyn's 2nd game and reaggravated it today:— Erik Slater (@erikslater_) November 12, 2023
“My knee has just been sore since game two and in a lot of pain. Just been playing through it for the most part, damn near playing on one leg. Kind of just… pic.twitter.com/B0ySoq9y7V
Media has not gotten a chance to speak with the soon-to-be 25-year-old about his hamstring injury, so it remains to be seen if Walker feels the two ailments are related.
In any case, the Nets are now without a guard who’s been the definition of a spark plug. Walker hasn’t just been Brooklyn’s bench scorer off the bench, but one of the best in the NBA, averaging a star-like 25 points per 36 minutes. The Nets have shown an uncanny ability to handle injuries to a variety of key players just over a month into the season, but there’s no denying they’ll miss Lonnie Walker IV.
- Nets’ Lonnie Walker IV to miss extended time with hamstring injury ($) - C.J. Holmes - New York Daily News
- Nets guard Lonnie Walker receives concerning hamstring injury update - Erik Slater - Clutch Points