On Friday morning, the Chicago Bulls officially announced that they’ve signed Windy City Bulls guard Walt Lemon Jr. to a contract that will run through the rest of the NBA season. This deal comes just two days after Lemon closed his G League season where he put up 29 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds on 12-27 from field, 1-2 from 3 and 4-6 from the free throw line in Windy City’s 1st round loss to the Westchester Knicks.
While he wasn’t able to lead Windy City to a G League title, Lemon played a vital role behind pushing the team to finish the year with a 27-23 record and make their first playoff appearance in franchise history. Before he made his debut with the team on December 12th, Windy City stood towards the back of the Eastern Conference with a 5-11 record.
Not only was he able to help push the team out of that rut, Windy City actually went on a big game winning streak that went from a December 14th matchup against Capital City to a January 11th victory over the Wisconsin Herd. During that stretch, Lemon shined by averaging 19.3 points, 8.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game on 46% from field and 36% from beyond the arc. His work as a facilitator shines among those stats as he was able to be one of the league’s leaders in assists per game while maintaining a 2.4 Ast/TO ratio.
Lemon’s tremendous impact on Windy City persisted even after the team’s winning streak finished on January 12th. Because in the subsequent two months of the G League season, he maintained his status as arguably the best point guard in the entire G League due to his knack as an on-ball driver and facilitator. Of course, that’s seen from his base stats as he’s averaged 20.1 points, 8.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game on 48% from the field.
One way that those two traits have been able to work hand-in-hand is through drive-and-kick, a method that Lemon used numerous times whenever he had the ball in his hands. That fact is exemplified by the fact that the Bulls shot 36% from beyond the arc from the time Lemon arrived to the team until the end of the season. In comparison, they shot 31% from 3 in the one-and-a-half month when Lemon was playing for the Maine Red Claws.
Another example of his positive influence on Windy City’s offense comes from how the teams are nearly six points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the court (110.1 points per 100) compared to when he’s sitting on the sidelines (104.6 points per 100).
As all of those stats clearly show, Lemon was arguably the biggest factor behind Windy City making their first playoff appearance in franchise history. Now that the Windy City’s 2018-19 G League campaign is behind us, it makes sense for their big league brother to award Lemon a contract for the remainder of the NBA season.
In addition to how he led Windy City, the 6’3 guard also stood as one of the more lethal backcourt threats in the entire G League by being able to utilize a quick first, step, slick handles and a steady mid-range jumper to just take over a game at a moment’s notice. An example of that was seen in the team’s March 13th matchup against the Maine Red Claws where Lemon made some huge shots in both the closing moments of the 4th quarter and overtime to push Windy City to a win in a game with huge playoff implications.
While he hasn’t had a chance to suit up for Chicago, there’s already been some rumblings that the Windy City alum should get extended playing time due to the team being ravaged by injuries. Will he use that playing time to show that he he has what it takes to become a part of the Chicago Bulls rotation for 2018-19 and beyond? The jury will obviously remain out on that until we actually get to see him play. No matter what happens, it’s clear that Lemon absolutely shined during his time with the Windy City Bulls and deserved a chance to showcase himself at the NBA level.