Boston Celtics‘ prized free-agent addition, guard Kemba Walker has been as advertised this season when on the hardwood, making his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance in 2020. However, the honor of appearing in this year’s All-Star game has left lingering issues and concerns about Walker’s “frustrating” knee, despite a nearly four-month layoff amid the pandemic.
“It’s definitely pretty frustrating, just because I’m not a guy who misses many games, especially throughout the course of my career,” Walker said following a team practice on Thursday, per ESPN. “I’m not really concerned much, honestly, because I’m trending upwards and I’m getting better and I’m getting closer to a return.”
Walker added that he’s “fine” and will “be back better than ever,” although when that is still remains a major question mark for the Celtics moving forward.
Walker ‘Taking it Slow’; Continues to Miss Practice Time
Walker’s practice time since arriving at the NBA Bubble in Orlando has been erratic, to say the least. While he did participate in a portion of the aforementioned Thursday session, it was just one of two practices he took part in for the week, missing Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday.
Boston appears to be taking a bigger-picture approach when it comes to Walker’s lingering knee concerns, as they should. Head coach Brad Stevens noted Walker experienced some “discomfort” in his knee during individual workouts prior to arriving in Orlando.
Since then the Stevens has gone on record noting that the team plans to place their star point guard on a minutes restriction to kick off the NBA restart, in hopes that Walker will be full-go when the playoffs tipoff in mid-August, first reported by Jay King of The Athletic.
Walker appears to fully back his coach’s decision, as he’s “taking it slow” with his bum knee, zeroing in his focus on getting his body right for when the games truly matter.
“Like I said, this is not normal for me, being out like this,” Walker stated. “But the smart way to go about things because I want to be at my best for my teammates and this organization when the regular season comes around and most definitely in the playoffs.”
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Walker’s Injury Greatly Hampered His Production
In 50 games with Boston this season, Walker averaged an impressive 21.2 points per game, along with nearly five assists. However, his production did see a massive dropoff following extensive minutes in the All-Star game, causing his knee to flair up.
After logging more than 29 minutes in the ASG, Walker appeared in four regular-season games with the Celtics prior to the league shutdown. The 4x-All-Star saw his field goal percentage drop by 11.4% from his season average, shooting a meager 18-for-59 from the floor over those four games. He wasn’t much better from behind the arc, making just nine of his 36 three-point attempts.