What fuels Lonnie Walker IV’s rush with the Los Angeles Lakers?

every morning before Lonnie Walker IV reports to one of the biggest pressure cookers in all of professional sports – a Los Angeles Lakers determined to atone for last season’s debacle and salvage the twilight of LeBron James’ career – musings with a spell.

“Dominate the day.”

There is a sanctuary-like appeal to a 23-year-old home located in an upscale neighborhood in Beverly Hills. It is surrounded by lush green gardens with a scenic view from the backyard swimming pool that extends to almost all parts of Los Angeles

But he begins his days by looking inward.

He gets out of bed and finds refuge in the corner of his bedroom on the second floor, where he takes 20 minutes to reset his operating system. He breathes in through his nose for four seconds and out through his mouth for four seconds.

inside and outside.

dominate the day.

inside and outside.

dominate the day.

Walker says the letter exudes confidence and urgency. “It’s just a time to disconnect from your subconscious mind and really talk to it,” says the reserved shooting ranger. “Just trying to reconnect with my body and my mind.”

it’s working. Walker sets career-best numbers in scoring (16.9 points per game), field goal percentage (47.1), free throw percentage (83.7) and defensive marks (0.9 steals; 0.5 blocks per game).

Back in the corner of his bedroom, he sits with his back against the wall, his legs stretched out in front of him and a window behind him letting in light into the room. He takes a whiteboard from the armchair he is leaning on and puts it in front of him. The board is filled with dry erase scribbles in blue, red and green ink that document his short and long term goals. He has a five-year career in the NBA, the first four of which were spent under the tutelage of Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs after being selected 18th overall in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft.

Scans a long range target. Most improved player.

He says a short-term goal is something he wants to achieve in a matter of months. Conference Player of the Week. beginning.

Shorter term goal? Wanting to field a strong showing in his first game in San Antonio (Friday, 8 p.m. ET) since signing a one-year, $6.5 million deal with Los Angeles in the offseason.

“There’s a book I’ve been reading,” Walker says. “He said every day you have a chance of getting one percent better. So let’s get one percent better. That means I’ve always been fascinated by what I can become. What man can I really get as an individual in this life?”

It’s double With his reflection on his game days.

He began the practice years ago in high school working with Dr. Rick Neff, a sports psychologist who now directs sports programs at Villanova University. Walker was a basketball phenom in Reading, Pennsylvania—a small town an hour’s drive northwest of Philadelphia—and Dr. Neff helped him get noticed.

“He was one of the greatest people who walked into my life,” Walker says. “As far as really understanding the power of the subconscious mind and understanding how powerful it is and the capabilities you can do with it.”

Walker adds an additional 15-minute arena session to refocus before completing it in any private space he can find. It’s a window of time after his skills work on the court and before coach Darvin Hamm addresses the team.

In the Crypto.com Arena, his sanctuary is the auxiliary locker room down the hall from his fancy Lakers digs. The gray-walled room is unadorned and the music that blares from the public address system above the court is muffled. It’s usually used by visiting NHL coaches, but it’s left empty on NBA nights, so Walker parks himself in one of the log cabins near the right side of the entrance and closes his eyes.

“I really feel like that’s one of the main reasons I play so well,” he says. “It really changed my mental state and maturity level to that court. As soon as I finish and leave and get into the locker room, I feel like a different person. That’s not my color any more, that’s it, ‘Time to play.'” I have no friends on that other team.”

It’s a mental system made more efficient by tremendous physical ability.

“From day one, he’s been a great athlete. He’s got gifts that a lot of players don’t have in that regard,” Popovich said before the Spurs play the Lakers on Sunday, the first of three games the two teams will play in. within seven days. “He was always just relying on that athletic ability, and it was pretty ridiculous compared to other people. But now he understands more about the mental side of the game with each passing year, and you can see that in his play.”

His play was as consistent as his routine, scoring in double figures in 11 of the 14 games he started – including three of them with 25 or more points. In 208 games with Spurs, he reached the 25-point plateau only five times.

“I think his confidence is through the roof,” Hamm said. “The kid is exceptional.” “I have a great deal of trust and faith in him.”

This belief, and The same kind of perimeter defense and three-tier scoring on offense mean his name could be stitched onto the back of a Laker jersey next season – and beyond.

Los Angeles has nearly $92 million in contracts committed for next season, when the salary cap is expected to be $134 million. There’s plenty of room to keep Walker if he continues to help the Lakers win – he averaged 18.7 points on 52.5 % of shooting (46.7% from 3) over Los Angeles’ last three winning streak.

“I’ve been here for a year,” Walker says. “I’d like to be here as long as possible. So what do I have to do to get to this point? To be disciplined, to be engaged, to be at my best, that’s something that’s going to get me there.”

Last season, Malik Monk played a similar role for the Lakers on a similar contract, but left to sign a two-year, $19.4 million deal with the Sacramento Kings with Los Angeles unable to make more than a mediocre exception, which ultimately went to Walker.

“He filled that void of being someone else we could count on to score basketball,” Anthony Davis told ESPN. “Register in groups and constantly try to learn and read about the game as the season goes on.”

Before the Lakers took their own charter for their three-game road trip, booking Thanksgiving with a game in Phoenix and then a rematch in San Antonio, Walker sat at home, preparing in his own unique way for the six-day trip. He grabs his phone and walks to the blackboard in his bedroom. He takes a picture of the goals he wrote for himself, as a reminder of where he is and where he wants to be.

As the team bounced from its temporary home in Arizona to its hotel in Texas, Walker found a pad of paper and a pen in the desks in his rooms, opened up his Beverly Hills whiteboard photo and recreated the roster.

Long term goal.

short term goal.

Then back to the wall, legs extended and eyes closed.

“Once I finish writing all my whiteboard on paper, I put it in my pocket,” Walker says. “It touches me, the words, everything goes through my body, and then I meditate.”

Another chance to be 1% better.

He breathed in through his nose for four seconds. He breathed through his mouth for four seconds. inside and outside. inside and outside. inside and outside.

dominate the day.

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