After averaging 18 points and six assists through the end of December, Kemba Walker is now doing slightly worse in those categories with 17.6 points and 5.9 assists per game.
That isn’t all that surprising when you learn he’s averaging just 30 minutes per game in January, though.
Yes, the best player on Charlotte’s roster is averaging five minutes per game below his season average this month.
Well, first, there could be a statistical reason.
After shooting 46 percent in December, Walker is shooting 43 percent in January. He’s also shooting very poorly from behind the arc, and relatively poorly from the free-throw line at just 60 percent this month.
He’s not turning the ball over at an abnormal rate though (2.5 per game in Jan.), and he’s actually rebounding better this month than he has all season (3.5 boards per game).
So why is Walker not getting the playing time he should?
I have absolutely no sources to back this up, and I have nothing to base this on other than the fact that I can’t think of another reason not to play Walker well over 30 minutes a game, but maybe he got into it with coach, Mike Dunlap, and Dunlap decided to send him a message in a loss to Cleveland, when Walker played just 24 minutes (none in the fourth quarter) despite shooting 50 percent and dishing out five assists in that game (In that same game Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon did play well enough to keep the Bobcats in it ’till the end).
Remember this Charlotte Observer story from early in the season discussing the tendency for Walker and Dunlap to be “frank” with one another?
Maybe something finally blew up the wrong way between the two.
Then again, maybe not. Dunlap apparently thinks Walker is headed to Chris-Paul-like levels:
“I’ve asked Kemba, `What do you think of Chris Paul’s game?’ And obviously Kemba tells me he has a lot of respect for him,” Dunlap said. “I’ve said to Kemba, `Well, that’s where you’re headed. That’s who you are in this league.”’
Hopefully I’m just reaching here. Maybe this drop in playing time is just a blip on the radar and nothing more than an oversight on the part of Dunlap.
Then again, if it is an oversight on his part, that’s not a good sign, either.