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#pounditWednesday, June 23, 2021

Kemba Walker: ‘I’m tired of not making the playoffs’

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In the midst of a career year with the Charlotte Hornets, it’s clear that guard Kemba Walker is playing with a bit of extra oomph this season. Now we’re getting a small glimpse into what his motivation might be.

“I’m tired of not being in the playoffs. I’m tired of having to watch the first round at home, not being a part of it,” Walker said on Friday in an interview with Michael Lee of The Vertical. “It’s a fun time for basketball. You know you get some national notoriety, of course. You want to be seen. You want to have fun. You want to play at the highest level. I don’t want to be there one year and then next year not make it. I want to be there every year.”

The UConn product has made the postseason just once in his five-year NBA career so far, a four-game sweep in the first round at the hands of the Miami Heat in 2014. But the Hornets have exceeded all expectations this season with a record of 43-31 (fifth in the Eastern Conference) and are on the verge of officially clinching a spot in the playoffs.

A major part of that has been Walker who is at or near his career-high levels in virtually every major statistical category in 2015-16 with averages of 21.0 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, and 5.2 assists per game.

While he has benefited from better floor spacing and depth with the acquisition of Nicolas Batum as a secondary playmaker/perimeter defender, the resurgence of Marvin Williams, and the addition of Jeremy Lin as a dependable backup, Walker deserve a lot of the credit himself.

Entering the season as a sub-40 percent shooter for his career, Walker reworked his jumper over the offseason and is now posting a career-high 42.8 percent from the field while reinventing himself as a knockdown three-point shooter (hitting 2.2 threes per game at a 37.8 percent clip).

With a surprising amount of parity this season, the Eastern Conference looks as wide open as it has ever been. With Cardiac Kemba leading the way, a deep playoff run for the Hornets actually might not be all that far out of the realm of possibilities.

Image Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

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