Prepare To Be Electrified by Kemba Walker
LAS VEGAS – It’s official: Kemba Walker is a member of the Boston Celtics.
What does that mean to Celtics Nation? Prepare to be electrified.
Walker, a three-time All-Star and All-NBA Third Team guard last season, is one of the most dynamic point guards in the NBA. He scores. He passes. He rebounds. He leads.
He is the complete package, and one that will fit in perfectly within Brad Stevens’ system.
Why? Because Walker can score in bunches both on and off the ball, and he’s one of the top 3-point marksman in the league when he is provided quality looks. Brad Stevens acknowledged as much in 2016, when he said of Walker, “The No. 1 thing that you point to is he shoots 39 percent from 3.”
Walker is a career 35.6 percent shooter from long distance, but he shot between 37.1 percent and 39.9 percent from long range from 2015-2018. Even more intriguing to the Celtics may be the fact that Walker canned 44.3 percent of catch-and-shoot 3s last season, according to NBA.com/stats. That’s an elite rate, and one that will translate well into Boston’s system.
That system is based upon pace and space, and there will be plenty of the latter when Walker is flanked by players such as Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Walker should be afforded far more catch-and-shoot opportunities than he received in Charlotte’s system, which relied heavily upon him dictating games via the pick-and-roll.
The best way to picture what Walker will look like in Boston’s system is to turn the clock back to Isaiah Thomas’ days in green. Stevens ran Thomas through constant off-ball screens to get him catch-and-shoot and live-dribble opportunities. It is almost certain that Stevens will do the same for Walker, except Walker will be surrounded by far more skill than Thomas ever had around him during his time in Boston. That means far more space for Walker to operate and dominate.
It should also be noted that Walker is four inches taller than Thomas, which matters.
Of all of the teams in the league, it is Boston that should know exactly what it is plugging into its lineup, if only for owning the game tapes of Walker’s performances against the C’s over the last three seasons. He was consistently great against them during that time span.
In 10 games against Boston during those three seasons, Walker averaged 26.4 points, 5.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game and never scored fewer than 20 points against the C’s. Those performances featured 36-point and a 43-point outbursts last season that led Charlotte to two victories over Boston.
Maybe those were the performances that clinched Boston’s interest in pursuing his services this summer if the opportunity provided itself. It did, and now Walker is back in New England.
Stevens may be the happiest of all as a result of that fact. He has followed Walker’s career since the guard’s days in high school, and he has raved about Walker with every given opportunity over the last few years.
Stevens called Walker “a warrior” and “a competitor” back in 2016. In 2017, shortly after coaching Walker in the All-Star game, Stevens called him “a special guy.” And the coach has always lauded Walker’s work ethic and love for the game, even dating back to their college days at Butler and Connecticut, respectively.
Speaking of which, these two have history that cannot be ignored. It was Walker who rose to the occasion back in 2011, when Butler and Connecticut met in the NCAA Championship game, by scoring a game-high 16 points to deliver UConn a title and Butler a second straight loss in the title match.
That performance has been a nightmare of a memory for Stevens over the past eight years. That nightmare will be whisked away in a hurry once Stevens gets to call the plays for his new All-Star point guard.
The time has come for Walker to return to New England and electrify an offense and a fan base yet again – this time for the most historic franchise in the history of basketball.