A four year NBA G League-veteran, Walter Lemon Jr.’s journey is one of immense perseverance and determination. He’s donned the uniform of three minor league teams — the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Maine Red Claws, and Windy City Bulls — this season, he rejoined the Mad Ants for a second stint with the club. At 27 years old, the guard continues to churn out a respectable pro career with notable accomplishments that he hopes will lead to a steady and prolonged NBA future. Still, he’s shown flashes of big league brilliance when given the chance. After a number of international stints, Lemon Jr. has utilized the NBA G League exclusively since 2017-18 in his quest to reach the next level.
Here’s a look at some special moments he’s had along the way.
1) Walt Lemon Jr. Scores An NBA G League Career-High 40 Points
On February 10, 2018, Lemon Jr. exploded for what still stands today as his NBA G League career-high of 40 points as a member of the Mad Ants. Already in the midst of his second minor league season, it should have come as no surprise that this microwave scorer could heat up in a hurry. This particular points eruption stands out with significance, however. Lemon Jr. not only went on to make his NBA debut with the New Orleans Pelicans later that month, but his efforts were further rewarded when he went on to sign a Two-Way contract the next season with the NBA club whose affiliate team he scorched: the Red Claws. It would appear as though Celtics brass appreciated what they saw up close.
2) Walt Lemon Jr. Scores His First NBA Points
Lemon Jr.’s second season in the NBA G League in 2017-18 saw his points per game average increase from 13.5 in year one to 22.4, signifying tremendous growth. New Orleans was the first NBA team to take notice, signing him to two 10-Day contracts. It was there that the Bradley alum got his first glimpse at the next level, scoring his first big league bucket in game number two on February 26 and averaging 3.4 points through 5 games.
3) A Hometown Hero Scores 19 Points In His First Game As a Chicago Bull
After being let go from his Two-Way contract with the Celtics, Lemon Jr.’s minor league rights were acquired by the Windy City Bulls and it couldn’t have been a better fit. After a slight career setback, the fiery offensive spark who grew up idolizing Derrick Rose joined his hometown club’s affiliate. Chicago took fast note of Lemon Jr.’s unique skills on offense and how hard he worked while supporting his teammates as someone with valuable experience. Toward the end of the 2018-19 campaign, the Bulls recognized Lemon Jr., helping him accomplish yet another dream while teeing up a fairy tale moment.
On March 30, Lemon Jr. wore his heart on his sleeve while boasting that coveted Bulls jersey, lighting up his hometown hardwood for 19 points, 6 assists, 4 steals, and 4 rebounds. It was a versatile effort that proved he was willing to do it all and get his hands dirty — anything it took — to prove he belonged. His campaign concluded with two 20+ point performances, averaging 14.3 points and 5 assists through six games in all.
#NBACallUp Walter Lemon Jr poured in a CAREER-HIGH 19 PTS, 6 AST, 4 STL & 4 REB in his @ChicagoBulls debut on Saturday night 🍋@BradleyUMBB ↗️ @windycitybulls ➡️ @chicagobulls pic.twitter.com/ZmKVUAfkjk
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) March 31, 2019
4) Lemon Jr. Earns All-NBA G League Second Team Honors
While Lemon Jr. was living out his dream as a Chicago Bull to close out last season, his earlier season efforts in the NBA G League were given kudos in the form of an All-NBA G League Second Team honor. Despite impressing in the minor league previously, never before had Lemon Jr. earned such an award. Though perhaps often underappreciated, Lemon Jr.’s subtlety was shown the due respect it deserved, even if, while at the same time, getting another chance to play in the NBA wasn’t enough of an indicator.
He averaged 20.9 points, 8.4 assists, and 1.7 steals for the Bulls and Red Claws in 2018-19.
🏆 #AllGLeague 2nd Team
🏀 20.9 PPG | 8.4 APG | 4.7 RPG | 1.7 SPG
⭐️ Top 5 League-Leader In APG and SPG
✅ Earned #NBACallUp to #Bulls on March 30@bradleyumbb ↗️@windycitybulls ↗️ @chicagobulls pic.twitter.com/lyuu35pClv
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) April 30, 2019
5) Lemon Jr. Lands On SportsCenter
A top 5 assists per game leader in 2018-19, Lemon Jr. returned with a vengeance this season, serving up some of his slick passes with extra flair. Wearing a familiar Mad Ants uniform for his second stint with the team, Lemon Jr. landed on SportsCenter’s Top 10 countdown at No.3 on February 3 for this run and gun, no look assist on the thunderous slam.
Still grinding it out for yet another shot in the NBA, Lemon’s resiliency knows no bounds and this assist is proof of his unselfishness with the rock.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) February 4, 2020