Help-wise, this April has been the very best month of Kemba Walker’s profession since his third season in Charlotte. He’s averaging 7.0 assists per sport over Boston’s 7-1 stretch in comparison with 5.1 over the complete season. That will appear to be an insignificant improvement in Walker’s development from an offseason stem cell injection in his left knee, however it does recommend that he’s peaking proper now and extra so, might be a main level of assault level guard within the playoffs.
Contemplate this stat: for the reason that commerce deadline, Walker has discovered Tatum, Brown, and Sensible behind the arc and the trio has hit 30-of-57 (52.6 3FG%) from three. With Walker performing as a main ball handler, that unloads a few of the playmaking duties off of the Celtics’ two All-Stars. And for what it’s price, Walker can nonetheless play pick-and-roll with a crashing large; Robert Williams is 7-for-7 on passes from Kemba.
For the sake of full disclosure, Walker shouldn’t be the PnR PG that he was in Charlotte. From 2016 to 2019, Walker was within the top-4 in NBA Stats monitoring percentiles of pick-and-roll ball handlers. In his remaining yr with the Hornets, Walker was scoring 1.01 factors per possession (90.9 percentile) for 11.9 factors per sport. Final yr, he was barely extra environment friendly at 1.09 ppp for 10.4 ppg. This season has seen a big drop to 0.88 ppp for 8 ppg.
A few of that might be attributed to his gradual begin after lacking the primary eleven video games of the season. A few of that’s Father Time catching up with the soon-to-be 31 yr outdated. A few of that’s generously accepting a job because the crew’s third wheel.
However what makes Kemba’s current run so spectacular are the number of angles and conditions that he’s been efficient in. As talked about, earlier than signing with Boston, Walker was one of many elite pick-and-roll level guards within the league. We’re used to seeing Charlotte Kemba working above the arc with an enormous man liberating him up with a display for a pull-up three, a mid-range jumper, or a drive to the ring. He’s at all times been in a position to rating in any respect three ranges, however over the previous few weeks, he’s been a key part to the Celtics’ dedication to extra ball motion.
His diminutive dimension makes for restricted passing angles versus a man like LeBron James or Luka Doncic, however Walker is an underrated distributor. He nonetheless will get a few performs known as for him as a main ball handler within the PnR, and as famous by CelticsBlog’s Jeremy Stevens, for the reason that commerce of Daniel Theis, the Celtics have deserted conventional two-big lineups and opted for extra spacing. That’s given Walker–and in flip, Tristan Thompson and Robert Williams–more room to work. Easy pick-and-roll reads like these are outdated hat for the ten-year veteran.
Walker hasn’t been attacking the basket as a lot this season, a minimum of to attain. Regardless of wanting a lot bouncier and faster for the reason that All Star break, he’s simply not getting up as many shot makes an attempt on the rim.
Nevertheless, he’s nonetheless utilizing his gravity within the restricted space to break down defenses and get his teammates good lucks. With the ability to get the ball from the break to the baseline adjustments the geometry and sight traces of the protection and he’s change into more and more efficient with that whip round go to the weak aspect and discovering open shooters on the perimeter.
He’s additionally diversified his playmaking portfolio as a secondary choice off the wing. In instances the place Brown, Tatum, or Sensible are initiating the offense, Walker is normally camped out within the nook. His three-point taking pictures is down this yr and he doesn’t usually take that shot; as a substitute, Walker has used his pace off the sidelines to assault closeouts, re-penetrate the paint, and get the ball shifting side-to-side to pressure one other defensive rotation and an open look.
Walker could not be the principle engine of an NBA crew. His function has developed and his perceived standing within the pecking order could have dropped a stage or two. Nevertheless, what hasn’t modified is Walker’s dedication to place the crew first and do no matter it takes to win.