Kemba Walker Is Becoming Elite

Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler / Getty

Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler / Getty

 

Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker is quickly becoming one of the elite point guard’s in the NBA. Top players at his position such as Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, and Damian Lillard—or any point guard of that matter—must be aware of getting stung by Walker whenever they matchup with him. Charlotte has yet to have an elite player since Baron Davis, and Walker is their new gem.

Kemba Walker has come out the gate blazing in 2016-17, turning heads each time he steps on the court. His slick handles, staggering step back, and ability to stop on a dime, losing his defender to knock down a mid-range jumper is a sight to see. His improvement has been evident due to his maturity on the court, lethal shooting and growing ability to get to the rim. Walker, once a turnover prone guard, has now learned how to take care of the ball and set up teammates for easy buckets—his assists numbers have proved it. To stop him, teams have tried to double-team him and force him into defensive traps, well it hasn’t worked out very well.

Throughout thirteen games, Walker has carried Charlotte to an 8-5 record standing 3rd in the Eastern Conference. Gaining early traction among some of the best team’s in the league, Walker must keep it up all season to lead his team deep into the playoffs. It seems as if he won’t be slowly down.

Kemba Walker is averaging 24.7 points, 5.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 47.0% from the field and sniping 41.3% of his three-point shots. His 40-point surge along with 10 rebounds and 6 assists on 63.2% shooting against Toronto on November 11, was his breakout game of the season, and maybe the best all-around game in his career.

Walker became the first player in Charlotte Hornets history to compile such numbers in a single game. He was snubbed an All-Star spot due to his team’s poor record last season, but in 2017, expect Walker to make the cut. It won’t be easy, though. Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, Dwyane Wade, John Wall, Jeff Teague, Jimmy Butler, and Isaiah Thomas were the guards who represented the Eastern Conference All-Stars in 2016. Walker has been playing better than almost all of these players this season and will likely get an All-Star nod if he keeps his level of play up, and if Charlotte continues winning. If named an All-Star, he’d be the first Hornets player to be named one since Gerald Wallace in 2010.

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey had high praise for Kemba Walker after his 40-point outing against his team.

“He is one of the toughest guys to guard in the league one-on-one. There came a point when a necessity came about and we had to double-team [Walker],” he said.

 

Kemba Walker is just entering his prime; the sky’s the limit for the 26-year-old point guard. Over the first five years of his career, his scoring numbers remained consistent at 17.3 points per game to go with a handful of rebounds and assists, but his percentages were very inconsistent. This season, his scoring numbers have risen greatly, as well as his three-point percentages and overall shooting from the field. From last season, Walker has made the transition from above-average point guard to a top-tier one. Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets have put the most effective pieces around Walker, and Charlotte’s record so far in 2016-17 is evident that their team is meshing greatly. The Charlotte Hornets had high hopes for Walker when they took him with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Now a soon-to-be All-Star, he has fulfilled what Charlotte wanted him to become; a star point guard who leads the team to victory and into the postseason. He is Charlotte’s go-to man; if you need a bucket, get the ball in Walker’s hands and get out of the way. The Hornets haven’t had a player of this type in a very long time.

Kemba Walker is finally getting the respect he deserves. Make sure you bring up Walker’s name in your next debate over some of the best point guards in the league; it’s safe to say he’s ranked among the league’s best.

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