Kemba Walker Enters More Rarified Air with All-NBA Selection
Once again, Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker has added another unprecedented achievement to his already illustrious eight-year NBA tenure. Coming on the heels of his first-ever All-Star Game start earlier this season, the now 29-year-old Walker has officially reached the exclusive status of All-NBA.
Having landed on the league’s Third Team, he is now the sixth different Charlotte player and first since former teammate Al Jefferson in 2014 to garner All-NBA designation. Glen Rice (2X), Larry Johnson, Anthony Mason and Eddie Jones are also all part of this select purple-and-teal fraternity.
When asked at exit interviews in April about the meaningfulness of making the All-NBA team, Walker spoke glowingly of the possibility, stating, “Oh, no question. What is it? 15 guys? It would be an honor. Only a select few guys each season get a chance to be on that list. If I was given that opportunity, it would mean the world.”
Joining Walker in the latest edition of the All-NBA backcourt are Steph Curry (Golden State), James Harden (Houston), Damian Lillard (Portland), Kyrie Irving (Boston) and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City). Center Nikola Jokić (Denver) is the only other first-time selectee on any of the three teams.
Amongst point guards, Walker ranked fourth in the NBA in scoring this season (career-high 25.6 PPG), trailing only Harden, Curry and Lillard. He also finished third overall in total three-point field goals (franchise-record 260), making him one of just eight players in league history to reach this threshold.
He’s one of seven NBA players in the last 30 years to average 25.0 PPG and 5.0 APG while playing all 82 games in a single season, a list that includes Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Harden and Bradley Beal. Walker, Iverson, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry and Isaiah Thomas are the only players 6-1 or shorter to make the All-NBA team since the turn of the century.
It would be easy to go on and on about not only this season, but the last few Walker has had, all of which are littered with extraordinary statistics, record-breaking performances and All-Star Game nominations. But reaching All-NBA status is a different level of elite in this league. Each year, only six guards are selected, a position that is currently as strong and competitive as it’s ever been in the sport.
For much of his professional career, Walker has been defined as the undersized (often times unheralded) guard in a smaller media market who quietly gets better and better every season. If starting the All-Star Game wasn’t enough to dispel some of this underdog perception, All-NBA status certainly is. There’s no question Walker is one of the best players in the world right now and moving forward, he’ll be treated more and more as such.
Walker is an impending unrestricted free agent this summer, so it remains to be seen whether or not he will add more to his storied career in the Queen City. For now, this honor is just another reminder of the extraordinary player, competitor and ambassador he’s been for the Charlotte Hornets organization not only this season, but the previous seven as well.