Kemba Walker’s Shoot First Mentality is Exactly What the Charlotte Hornets Need

Apr 8, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) goes up for a shot against Brooklyn Nets forward Thomas Robinson (41) in the first half at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) goes up for a shot against Brooklyn Nets forward Thomas Robinson (41) in the first half at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports /

Many critics have labeled Kemba Walker as a shoot first point guard but his style of play is exactly what the Charlotte Hornets need.

Kemba Walker’s style of play has irked fans and critics alike throughout the course of his career. Unlike many other counterparts from around the NBA, the Charlotte Hornets‘ point guard has a shoot first mentality. While many believe that it to be a detriment, it is rather a compliment in his case.

Many NBA experts believe that a shoot first point guard is not ideal for today’s league but Kemba’s style of play is the main reason why his team is enjoying the success that they have had. Walker has become one of the best scoring point guards in the Association and while he still has critics, his outstanding play can not be overlooked.

The University of Connecticut alum may not play like Stephen Curry or Chris Paul but his style is somewhat unique in today’s NBA. While the era of the scoring point guard has become more acceptable with the likes of Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and Damian Lillard taking centerstage, Walker’s style is vastly different from all of them. As a smaller point guard, he doesn’t have the height, athleticism, or strength to mirror the games of Westbrook or Wall.

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Instead, Kemba is your atypical point guard with a smaller frame that still scores with some of the best players in the league. At only 6’1 and 172 pounds, Walker’s score first mentality at his size can only compare to that of Isaiah Thomas and Kyle Lowry. He is still able to put up all-star like numbers despite his smaller frame.

Charlotte drafted Walker back in 2011 knowing that he was a shoot first point guard. The Hornets didn’t want him to shoot less and pass more, rather they wanted him to develop his scoring ability at the NBA level. After being a borderline all-star last season, Kemba proved that he is one of the best scorers at his position.

While many critics called for Walker to become more of a traditional guard, he continued to play his way and it has paid off for both him as an individual and for the team as a whole. The Hornets relished in a 48 win season last year as they made only their third playoff appearance since 2004. Charlotte’s recent success is thanks in large part to Kemba’s scoring ability and outstanding play.

Taking a look at advanced statistics, Walker led the Hornets in Offensive Win Shares (6.3), Defensive Win Shares (3.6), and total Win Shares (9.9). He also led the team in Usage Percentage (26.5%), Box Plus/Minus (4.0), and Value Over Replacement Player (4.4). (

The 26-year old averaged 20.9 points per game last season which was good enough for sixth among point guards. Although he is a scoring machine, Walker is far from being a one-dimensional player. Kemba also averaged 5.2 assists per game (second on the team) and 1.6 steals per game (top-eight in the NBA).

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Walker’s scoring output should only continue to increase as he adds more wrinkles to his game. Kemba has always been great at dribbling into the lane and creating space for mid-range shots but now that he can shoot the ball from deep, he has become much more dangerous. He can now score in a variety of ways and at an elite level.

The New York native had 41 games of 20+ points, 13 games of 30+ points, one 40 points game, and one franchise record 52 point outing. Kemba’s increase in scoring output was mainly a result of his improved efficiency. He shot career highs from the field (42.7%), the three-point line (37.1%), and from the free throw line (84.7%) last season.

Kemba is the go-to scorer on Charlotte’s roster and he gets a basket when the team needs one the most. He takes the shots late in games and Walker’s ability to create is second to only a few around the league. The Hornets rely on the point guard to put up big numbers on a nightly basis and more often than not, he gets the job done.

Charlotte’s shoot first point guard has made his craft into an art and his style of play into team success. He is the elite scorer that the Hornets’ need and that every team desires.

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To all of those “haters” who continue to bash Walker’s play on a nightly basis, like it or not, he has become a top point guard in the NBA today. Not only that, but he has become a top scorer in the league. If he continues his great performances, there is no reason why critics should continue with their hate of Kemba’s shoot first mentality.