In 11 starts this season, Walton Jr. is averaging 11.3 points per game, four assists and 4.5 rebounds, numbers that are all up from a season ago but not exactly the step many were expecting the second year starter to make thus far.
Walton Jr. sat out Michigan’s blow out win over Nicholls State back on Nov. 19 with a toe injury, an issue that has continued to plague him as the weeks have gone by.
Following Monday’s 72-56 win over Coppin State, a game Walton Jr. scored nine points and dished out nine assists, Michigan coach John Beilein said the key will be rest for Walton Jr. and the rest of the starters leading up to the Big Ten opener with Illinois Dec. 30.
"Spike (Albrecht) needs it, Caris (LeVert) needs it, Zak (Irvin) needs it,” Beilein said. “Those guys have been putting in heavy minutes and we said no basketball. Don't go back to your high school; don't do anything.
“Derrick needs to rest, he needs to get that toe better, right? We all need rest right now and you could see we were a little tired in that second half."
Walton Jr. has been hesitant to discuss the injury throughout the early season, not looking to make excuses or draw attention to it. Regardless, it appears obvious the issue is having some sort of effect on his performance.
"It's gradually getting better everyday," Walton Jr. said. "I'm able to play so I don't really complain about it."
"Sometimes (it limits me) but in the moment I just feel a little adrenaline and play off adrenaline," Walton Jr. said.
Unable to practice fully recently, Walton Jr. understands the importance of rest and plans to do his best to comply with Coach Beilein’s zero basketball activity request over the holidays.
"It’s probably best to stay off my legs but not being able to go full go kind of handicaps me with my condition,” Walton Jr. said. “I think I’m going to try to do a couple things while I’m home but nothing over the top.”