Charlotte Hornets: 20 greatest player seasons in franchise history

Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

10. Kemba Walker, 2016-17

  • NBA All-Star
  • NBA Sportsmanship Award
  • 23.2 PPG, 5.5 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG
  • 8.1 Win Shares, 3.9 Value Over Replacement Player

2016-17 was Kemba Walker’s breakthrough season. It was easily his best season on the hardwood since his unforgettable junior season at UConn. Walker’s NBA career was largely underwhelming his first few years in the league.

He was a volume scorer that shot at a very low percentage. Walker didn’t get over 40 percent from the field consistently until his fifth season in the league in 2015-16. Fortunately for him and the Hornets, it was a step in the right direction for Walker.

Charlotte was coming off a playoff berth, but had yet to see its star player enter his prime. By averaging 23.2 points, 5.5 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, Walker earned his first of what is now three-straight NBA All-Star Game appearances.

The big key in Walker’s development was better 3-point shooting. During his first four years in the league, Walker was shooting in the low 30th percentile. Then in his fifth season in the league, Walker hit 37.1 percent from beyond the arc. This has roughly been his new average from distance in his four most recent seasons.

Walker not only made the NBA All-Star Game, but won his first NBA Sportsmanship Award. He achieved 8.1 win shares that season, bringing his value over replacement player number to 3.9. Like Glen Rice from a previous era, Walker’s job on the Hornets was to get buckets above all.

Yes, Walker is a point guard, as opposed to a wing like Rice. However, his improved scoring ability has given the Hornets something they haven’t had since Rice last played for them: a star.

Some might have seen Walker’s 2016-17 campaign as an anomaly initially, as he hadn’t shown that type of NBA level success up to that point. That being said, 2016-17 is significant because it truly marks the beginning of Walker’s NBA prime, one that hopefully resides entirely in Charlotte.