Kemba Walker is the Unquestioned Leader of the Charlotte Hornets

Apr 27, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) looks on against the Miami Heat during the second half in game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) looks on against the Miami Heat during the second half in game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

As the longest tenured member of the Charlotte Hornets, Kemba Walker has undoubtably become the team’s unquestioned leader.

Since being drafted by the franchise in 2011 with the ninth overall pick in the first round, Kemba Walker has worked and built himself into the unquestioned leader of the Charlotte Hornets. Only in his mid-20’s, Kemba has a veteran presence after five years in the league. The 6’1 point guard is a leader both on and off the court for the team from Buzz City.

After being drafted, many critics were questioning if Walker would be able to transition his game to the NBA level. One thing never questioned was his leadership ability which was evident during his time at the University of Connecticut. He played three years at UCONN and even won a National Championship in 2011. Success at the professional level wasn’t immediate but over time, Kemba developed his craft. He is now coming off of a career season in which he led the Hornets to an incredible 48 wins and a playoff appearance.

One of the biggest testaments to Walker’s leadership is what Jeremy Lin had to say about him this summer. The former teammate said that “Kemba taught me really what it means to be the leader of a team. He was so humble in his demeanor but when the game started, he was an absolute killer.” Lin only played one season with the Hornets and alongside Kemba but he enjoyed one of his best year’s as a professional and Walker left a lasting impression on Jeremy.

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Leader On and Off the Court

Kemba has become one of the best point guard in the NBA after his career season last year. Even after making an incredible leap, he is still a humble leader that connects with every player on the roster. As the point guard, he is the floor general and the coach on the court for Charlotte. He is the one that makes the Hornets go on both offenses and defense.

Walker leads by example and is the clear-cut go to guy on offense. When the team needs a big shot down the stretch of close games, Kemba is always willing to take and make the clutch shots. It takes a strong leader to handle the amount of responsibilities that he does with this team.

The 26-year old point guard averaged a career high 20.9 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, and 5.2 assists per game last season. He showcased his durability by playing in 81 games and averaging 35.6 minutes per game. Kemba also shot 42.7% from the field, 37.1% from the three-point line, and 84.7% from the free throw line. The jump in his efficiency was the biggest improvement in his game last year.

Off the court leadership is where Walker separates himself from other players. Teammates respect him and he even coordinated an offseason workout this summer between all of the players. Roy Hibbert said that “Kemba wanted everyone to get together at the beginning of the month (for non-coach workouts).” (LockedOnHornets)

It is clear that when Kemba talks, the team listens. He is the leader that makes this team go and he is respected by every individual in the organization. Walker is the star of the team but his demeanor and humble personality is one of the main reasons why teammates are willing to go to war with him.

Everyone Wants Him to Succeed

It is clear how good of a leader the New York native is by the amount of people around him that want him to succeed. One of the most reiterated points from media day this year was that everyone wants Kemba to be an all-star this season. Almost every player at some point during media day said that they wanted to help Walker make the all-star team in the 2016 campaign.

Learning From the Best

Kemba Walker has displayed leadership qualities that parallel owner and NBA Hall of Famer, Michael Jordan, throughout his time with the Hornets. The Charlotte point guard talked about how MJ motivates, mentors, and helps him with GQ in 2015. Jordan was one of the best leaders ever during his time with the Chicago Bulls, Kemba is following in his footsteps and proving to be a great leader in his own right.

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Many question the legitimacy of the Hornets’ recent success but there is no doubt that Walker has been key in their great play. In my opinion, Kemba is one of the best leaders in the NBA today and he is clearly the unquestioned leader of the team. He can hold that role for years to come. The Charlotte franchise were in a bad place just a few seasons ago but over the past few years, the leadership skills displayed at the point guard position by Kemba Walker has helped them grow into a contender.