You can’t blame Kemba for thinking the shot was going in, but you have to laugh at him for turning his back and celebrating one that rimmed out. And here’s the original: Nick Young doing the same thing.
“I hate to see him go, but at the same time I’m definitely happy for him,” Walker said. “He deserves to be a starter in this league. He’s such a great player and he proved that last season. There were games where I was off and he carried the team.”
Walker, 26, enjoyed the best statistical season of his career in 2015-16. But Lin’s effectiveness running the second unit took much of the burden off Walker’s shoulders and was instrumental to Charlotte’s surprise sixth-seed playoff berth last year.
For Lin, who signed a three-year deal with the Nets this offseason and will get the chance to be their full-time starting point guard, his rim-attacking mentality and productivity operating out of the pick-and-roll are very much starter-caliber material. It’s great to see that Walker, who is himself becoming one of the Association’s top young point guards, thinks so too.
Walker, 26, had a career season in 2015-16, averaging 20.9 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, and 5.2 assists per game. He led the charge to a surprise playoff berth for the Hornets in the Eastern Conference, where they fell in the first round to the Miami Heat in a seven-game thriller.
While Walker has ample time to recover in time for training camp, the news is somewhat concerning since the former No. 9 overall pick already needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the same knee back in January 2015. For Walker, a player whose game relies a lot on speed and lateral movement, it remains to be seen how the injury will affect him moving forward.
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.
Nikola Mirotic is in his first season in the NBA after beginning his professional career in Europe. I would imagine the 23-year-old didn’t encounter too many players over there with the dribbling ability of Kemba Walker.
During the third quarter of Wednesday’s game between the Bulls and Hornets, Walker hit Mirotic with a crossover at the three-point line that left the rookie on his backside below free-throw line. And because a move like that loses some of its luster if you miss the shot, Walker calmly drained the jumper.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker are teammates with the Charlotte Bobcats, but they were heated rivals on Monday night. Kidd-Gilchrist attended the University of Kentucky, where he won a championship in 2012. Kemba Walker went to UConn, and he also won a title back in 2011. Naturally, a friendly wager was in order.
Walker won, and Kidd-Gilchrist had to pay up by wearing one of Kemba’s UConn T-shirts and posting a photo of it on Instagram. Here’s a clip from when Kidd-Gilchrist still had hope.
Thursday’s NBA draft was both exhilarating and head-scratching. Some players went higher than expected (ahem, Iman Shumpert). Others fell far, to teams that never expected to grab them (Chris Singleton and the Wizards, for instance).
It’s too early to tell which of these players will reach their potential and which ones will veer off the tracks in an Adam Morrison-like train crash. Like an overwrought episode of Franklin & Bash, it’ll take a while for the basketball community to reach its final verdicts.
In the meantime, here’s a quick pick-by-pick analysis of each player taken in this year’s lottery and how they fit with their new team:
1. Kyrie Irving (PG) – Cleveland
The look on Irving’s agent’s face when Irving’s name was called No. 1 was priceless. Turns out Cleveland had kept them in the dark all week long. Not a promise (despite there being word of a promise). Not a hint. Nothing. When you heard “Kyrie Irving to the Cleveland Cavaliers,” that’s the first time he heard it too. I’m sure Irving’s agent will remind Cavs executives of this in a few years when it comes time to sign an extension. In the meantime, Irving will be asked to keep the Cavs afloat with a nucleus of Baron Davis, AndersonVarejao, J.J. Hickson and Tristan Thompson. No easy feat. Let’s hope Dan Gilbert isn’t thinking playoffs any time soon.
Reading NBA draft previews sometimes feels like wading through Princess Bride-style quicksand. With so many names to remember and stats to sift through, it can be hard to figure out what draft info is important and what’s just unnecessary nonsense.
Do you care as a casual fan, for instance, that Enes Kanter has 5.9% body fat? Or that Marcus Morris can run three quarters of the court in 3.2 seconds whereas his twin brother, Markieff, runs it in 3.4 seconds? Not really, right?
You just want the basics. Which is why I wrote this beginner’s guide.
Draft lunatics will already know most of what is written below. It’s not quantum physics, just a good starting place for people staring at the screen on draft night wondering “who is that guy?”
If you’re here for insight into Nikola Vucevic’s standing reach, you’ve come to the wrong place. But if cheat sheet info delivered in 100 words or less is your thing, I’m your guy. You won’t find any quicksand here.
Here’s my Cliff Notes-style guide to the 2011 NBA draft:
Viewers watching the Kentucky-North Carolina game on Sunday hoping to hear a good breakdown from the analysts at halftime came away disappointed. Actually, they probably had their senses assaulted by the uncomfortable three-minute interview CBS conducted with UConn stars Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb. Check it out if you didn’t already see it via Bubbaprog:
Walker’s a junior so he’s had three years of media experience, but Lamb made it painfully obvious he’s only a freshman and new to interviews on national TV. CBS should have known better than to put an inexperienced player on TV for a sit-down like that because not even Charles Barkley fudging his questions could lighten the mood. Next time CBS should ask for the coach and a media-savvy player for an interview. Then again, they’re kind of in a tough spot because only people in Massachusetts and Connecticut can understand whatever dialect of English Jim Calhoun speaks.
UConn has advanced to the semi-finals of the Big East Tournament after beating DePaul, Georgetown, and Pittsburgh in a three-day span. The story of the afternoon on Thursday was once again Kemba Walker — the nation’s best point guard in my opinion — who scored 24 points. None were bigger than the two that came with 0.00 seconds remaining in the game. Check out the Kemba Walker game-winner against Pitt, courtesy of Mocksession:
The shot was incredible, but Gary McGhee should have switched back and let Brad Wanamaker cover Walker. He had to have known he was going to either drive or take a step-back jumper. McGhee allowed him to get more space than he needed to hit the shot, which is Walker’s bread and butter to begin with. In any event, UConn stays alive and moves on to face the winner of St. Johns and Syracuse on Friday night. The Huskies have given themselves a huge boost in NCAA tournament seeding.