Kemba Walker Set to Make More Hornets History
Buzz Words | Hornets 2017-18 Season Notebook
Matt Rochinski and Sam Perley of hornets.com will be following the Hornets throughout the 2017-18 NBA season and keeping fans up to date through the Buzz Words | Hornets Notebook. Keep checking back to see what the latest is as the season unfolds.
By Sam Perley, hornets.com | Friday, Feb. 2, 2:05 p.m.
With 3:40 remaining in the Hornets' 123-110 road win over the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 31, Kemba Walker buried his ninth three-point field goal of the contest to officially break the franchise's single-game record. It was a relatively unexpected outing for the Charlotte veteran who, since entering the league in 2011, had recorded seven three-pointers on just two other occasions.
Contrarily, one record-breaking performance that isn't coming out of nowhere is Walker's impending ascension to the top of the franchise's all-time three-point field goal leaderboard. Following his historic night in Atlanta, Walker (923) is just seven makes away from passing Dell Curry for the most in Charlotte history (929).
"It's a great accomplishment. Everyone knows how great a shooter Dell was. For me to be in that company, it's an honor," said Walker on Friday morning. "Especially for me coming into the league, the way I shot the basketball, being really inconsistent. I would never have thought I'd get this close to being a team's all-time leader in three-point makes."
Like he alludes to, what makes this looming achievement even more remarkable is just how much Walker has developed as a three-point shooter over the course of his career. In his first four NBA seasons, he connected on 370-of-1,165 three-point attempts, which comes out to a success rate of just 31.8 percent.
From the start of the 2015-16 campaign until now, Walker has drained 553-of-1,448 attempts from behind the arc, good for a 38.2 percent three-point percentage. Only five other players in the league have as many makes from long range during this time frame as Walker does (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Paul George).
"When he was younger, he was such a good pick-and-roll player, but everybody went under him and dared him to shoot [from three-point range]," said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford following the team's win in Atlanta. "When he started working more with [Hornets Assistant Coach] Bruce [Kreutzer], it changed everything. He was so diligent. He still works with him daily. That first summer [in 2015], he put in an incredible amount of work."
"I'll tell you a great story just to show you how tough-minded he is. People forget he didn't get off to a great start at the beginning of [the 2015-16] season. He came in one day and said 'I'm just not as comfortable as I am when I'm practicing', but he stayed with it. He's a terrific player anyways, but [the three-point shooting] has brought him to another level."
Clifford added after the team's shootaround on Friday morning, "I've had more than one NBA person tell me that Kemba's improved as much as any NBA player they've ever seen. [These are] guys that have been around a lot. It's work ethic, it's professionalism."
Walker notched a career-high 240 three-pointers last year, falling three short of matching Jason Richardson's single-season franchise record set in 2007-08. Along with the likes of Curry, Thompson and Harden again, Walker is one of just 11 players in league history to reach this milestone in a single NBA campaign.
"You root for a guy like Kemba because you like him," Dell Curry says. "You see how he plays the game. He plays the right way. He doesn't show up anybody, he's determined to win. He's a fun-spirited guy. You know he's going to be entertaining and when he's playing well, his team normally plays well."
In a few days or so, Kemba Walker will officially become the greatest three-pointer shooter in Charlotte Hornets franchise history. Whenever the time comes for him to retire from basketball, there probably won't be any argument that he's the greatest overall player as well.