The Charlotte Bobcats lucked into drafting an impact player at a position of need, they reached with the 7th overall pick by drafting Bismack Biyombo. The Bobcats made up for it by drafting Kemba Walker with the 9th overall pick, Walker had just won the National Championship on the collegiate level.
Charlotte made a change last year in their style of play by hiring Paul Silas, Silas wanted an up-tempo team. He had some pieces on the wings that fit that scheme in Gerald Henderson and Tyrus Thomas, but didn’t have the right player at point guard. DJ Augustin for everything that he is, is not an up-tempo point guard. He can certainly run an offense, get buckets for himself, but never gave you the impression that he could LEAD. The other thing with Augustin is that when matched up with premier point guards, he struggled to create space due to his limited athleticism.
Walker led an extremely young team to a National Championship at Uconn, what was more impressive was the way he made his teammates better. It might not have shown on the stat sheet, but those freshmen went to war with their captain EVERY GAME. He led them through adversity and hit many big shots along the way, Walker never seemed to be afraid of the moment. That’s hardly a bad trait for your point guard to have, one of the biggest misconceptions about Walker is that he’s a shoot-first PG. Walker played his role each year at Uconn. Freshman year he was asked to provide a spark off the bench and he did so, Sophomore year he ran the team. He didn’t step on the veterans toes at all in Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson, never once did he take the ball out of their hands a la Russell Westbrook- Kevin Durant. Last year as a Junior, he was on a team full of freshman which meant he HAD to shoulder the scoring load for the TEAM to be successful. As the season progressed he leaned on his young teammates and they came through for him when asked. For example, check out Jeremy Lamb’s FG % from early in the season compared to his FG % during the Title Run.
Kemba is blessed with elite athleticism, armed with a mid-range jumper, possesses poise, and calm in the clutch. He is said to be “undersized” at 6’1, but that doesn’t stop him from finishing at the basket. Kemba needs to work on being more consistent from three point land, but his ability to break down a defense and knock down mid-range jumpers has him prepared better than most. Walker is also extremely adept in pick and roll situations, seeing that Uconn runs many 1-4 pick and rolls( PG/PF). At the end of the day, someone with his type of speed is a much better fit in an up-tempo offense.
It was only a pre-season game, but we got to see Kemba’s impact on a game down the stretch vs Atlanta. Walker took the game over by scoring the last 5 points for Charlotte, he didn’t shoot well from the floor but he wasn’t scared either. In 19 minutes, Kemba scored 18 points. More importantly is that he had the confidence of his teammates both on the floor and off to trust him with the ball at the end of the game.
If the Bobcats wish to put their best foot forward this season, they need to hit the ground running with Kemba at the helm.