Kings add former NBA guard as import signing
THE Sydney Kings have bolstered their chances of going back-to-back in the National Basketball League (NBL) with the signing of talented guard Derrick Walton Jr. earlier today.
With the futures of star guards Jaylen Adams and Ian Clark still up in the air as the duo remain unsigned, the addition of Walton Jr. may prove to be a vital one as Sydney looks to back up their championship-winning 2021/22 campaign.
The 27-year-old enjoyed a successful college career with the Michigan Wolverines, before spending time on NBA teams such as the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Clippers and most recently the Detroit Pistons, splitting his time between the team’s senior side and G-League affiliate.
Walton Jr. describes himself as a “pure point guard”, with his ability to find teammates in scoring positions set to give the Kings a more dynamic look on offence.
Speaking to Kings Media after the announcement, Walton Jr. expressed his excitement around joining the Kings culture.
“I had a zoom meeting with the whole staff, including Coach Buford and Chris Pongrass, and I just thought their energy and their knowledge was incredible,” he said. “It made me want to work with them. My goal first and foremost is to win, so Sydney’s track record of winning and recent success was also very attractive to me. “I know people in Australia are very passionate about basketball, which means a lot to me. I love being surrounded by passionate people who love what they do.”
He also discussed the strengths he hopes to bring to an already strong Sydney outfit for season 2022/23.
“I take pride in making sure I put my teammates in a position to put their best foot forward and capitalise on their skills with my passing and vision,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I can really score, but I always want to make sure I’m creating efficient opportunities for my teammates. It’s second nature to me.
“I also take immense pride in the energy that I bring on both sides of the floor. I’m always going to play as hard as I possibly can — pursue every loose ball and rebound, dive on the floor, all of that. And I hope that energy is infectious and inspires my teammates to play the same way.”
Fresh off his most successful season at NBA level (averaging 6.3 points and seven assists per game, albeit in a small sample size), Walton Jr. may prove a wildcard as the Kings aim for consecutive titles.
Kings CEO Chris Pongrass echoed the club’s excitement of securing the services of the well-rounded point guard.
“He has a deep offensive repertoire and is an efficient scorer yet is renowned for his playmaking ability and creating for his teammates, leading the G League in assists last season,” Pongrass said.
“Derrick possesses all the physical tools we were looking for with this signing. He is strong, robust, and will embrace the physicality of this league. His style of play very much suits Chase’s system, and I am comforted knowing we have someone with a raft of NBA and European experience.
“Kings fans should be excited about what he will bring our side as we focus on defending our NBL Championship.”