At the start of this week, 27 of the 30 teams in the Association starting their training camp with the annual media day. That meant the first time that fans would be able to see rookies like Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz in their new unis. On that same perspective, we also had the opportunity to see superstars in new situations whether its Chris Paul in Houston or Carmelo Anthony and Paul George with the OKC Thunder.
More important than those two aesthetic-based examples, NBA training camp is a terrific way for some unsigned prospects to really showcase their worth in front of coaches and executives. While they might’ve played in Summer League, this is the first time that they have an opportunity to compete against actual NBA veterans on a day-by-day basis in practices or preseason games.
That type of competition allows those players to truly prove that they belong on an NBA level. Although most of those unsigned invites don’t make it onto a regular season roster, those players still had a brief opportunity to show if they could stand alongside real NBA players.
One prospect that is using training camp to prove himself is guard Derrick Walton, who is currently with the Miami Heat on a two-way contract. Although his status with the team is basically solidified due to that two-way deal, this is still a great opportunity for him to showcase himself against solid Heat guards like Dion Waiters , Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson. While we’re only a week into training camp, it appears like Walton is actually impressing.
“Derrick is fast-tracking,” Spoelstra recently told Palm Street Post. “This is a lot for him. We like his promise and what he can bring. He’s going to be just fine with a little bit more time, but that position — walking into this training camp where all the other guards are familiar — he has some catching up to do.”
Another example of Walton’s solid training camp play was evident during Saturday’s team scrimmage where he made a smooth drive-and-dish feed to Jordan Mickey where he was able to just work his way through the defense. While not getting much time on the floor, Walton did impress as he put up 5 points (2-5 from field, 1-3 from 3), two boards, five assists and two steals. While an extremely tiny sample size, it’s definitely an example of why the Heat were interested in giving Walton a two-way deal.
Of course, this is just the start of Walton’s rookie season as he still has to finish out the preseason before making his way to play with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. In the G League, he’ll have an immediate opportunity to stand as the team’s go-to weapon which should allow him to showcase his versatile game.
Although he’s still a work in progress defensively and as an on-ball cutter, Walton should still put solid numbers with Sioux Falls due to his mix of solid facilitating (maintained a 2.9 Ast/TO ratio as a senior at Michigan) and from beyond the arc (shot 42% from 3). If he can transfer that impressive efficiency to the G League level, then there’s a chance that Walton may join the likes of Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder and Okaro White as solid Heat players that started their careers in Sioux Falls.