Kemba Walker Is Not Your Franchise Player


After a season filled with injury and disappointment, it is clear that Kemba Walker is not leading the Charlotte Hornets to glory.

Charlotte Hornets’ fans love Kemba Walker. His heart and hustle have won over the hearts and minds of the Queen City. However, that heart and hustle hides an undeniable fact. Walker is never taking this team on his back unless the ultimate destination is the NBA draft lottery.

In his four years with the Hornets, Walker has shot under 40% from the field in three of those years. He has shot 33% or less from behind the three point line every season. His assist-to-turnover ration is under 3-1, which is bad for a point guard. Ty Lawson, as an example, a guy who has never been an All-Star, and who recently signed a very similar extension(4 years, $48M) to the one signed by Walker, has an assist-to-turnover ration well over 4.

1Ty Lawson12.6.4663.0.3694.6.7713.47.61.416.5
2Kemba Walker15.9.3954.5.3184.6.8144.05.91.517.7

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/26/2015.

Look at that comparison and you can see Walker’s flaws right away. Lawson shoots better from both two and three point range and he dishes out more assists. Lawson, for the same amount of money, is a far superior player. Lawson is a couple of years older than Walker, and has two more seasons under his belt, but there has been no steady upward trend from Walker in his first four campaigns in the league.

The worst part is that no part of Walker’s game is really spectacular. In fact, most is below average for a starting point guard. Walker shoots just 49.2% from within three feet of the rim. Lawson, for comparison, shoots 63.7%. Walker cannot hit a layup in traffic, and he cannot knock down a wide open three. He is not particularly skilled at setting up teammates, and he is too small to ever be a great defender.

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When Walker came back from his knee injury, and the Hornets desperately needed a lift as they came down the stretch in a tight playoff race, he averaged just 13.2 points per game in April on 36.3% shooting with only four assists in over 30 minutes of game action. That kind of production at the point killed any hopes of Charlotte making the playoffs.

The team went 21-41 with Walker on the floor and 12-8 without him. While injuries to other players contributed to that poor record, especially late in the season, the Hornets did not seem to miss Walker when he was on the shelf. Just as Steve Nash’s absence solidified his MVP selection in 2005 with the poor performance of the previously unstoppable Phoenix Suns, the solid play of the Charlotte Hornets while Walker watched in street clothes should have opened the eyes of Hornets’ fans and management.

Kemba Walker is never leading this team to a long playoff run. He is never going to carry this team. At best, he will always be a complimentary player. His game is very similar to that of former Philadelphia 76ers MVP Allen Iverson, except that Iverson shot over 42% for his career. Still, Iverson is the best comparison and the best case scenario. A volume scorer who can make some tough shots.

In a very weak Eastern Conference, Iverson was good enough to hoist the 76ers onto his back and take them all the way into the NBA Finals. Kemba Walker failed to even make the playoffs in a just as dreadful East in three of his four years in the league.

So while we all hope that Walker will discover his shooting stroke and become the next Allen Iverson, that hope fades a little with each brick he chucks up at the rim. In fact, at that this point, it might be wise for general manage Rich Cho to quietly shop Walker.

If another team offers anything of value for Walker, it is probably time to pull the trigger and end the Kemba Walker era in Charlotte. That may be an unpopular opinion, but facts are facts. Walker is not a leader, and he is never going to become the player the Hornets hoped they were getting when they drafted him.

Next: Did The Hornets Miss Out On Norris Cole?