‘He’s Not an Asset’: Major Doubt Cast on Key Celtics Starter

Analyst Casts Major Doubt on Kemba Walker

Getty Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics speaks with Grant Williams #12 before playing against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Kemba Walker closed out the regular season on quite the tear, albeit missing the final three games — a far too common occurrence for Boston Celtics fans this season. The 31-year-old point guard scored 29-plus points in four of five games and looked primed and capable to help man the scoring duties left behind by injured All-Star Jaylen Brown come playoff time.

Instead, Walker’s postseason got off to a dreadful start. When the Cs needed him most, the four-time All-Star faltered, missing 11 of his first 14 attempts and finishing the contest shooting just 5-of-16 from the field. His inadequate showing has many shedding serious doubts on Walker’s effectiveness, now and moving forward.

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‘What Can the Celtics Do?’ Kemba’s Struggles Bring Uncertainty

Of course, keeping pace with an offensive juggernaut such as the Brooklyn Nets is a steep ask for any team, let alone a team stripped of one of the NBA’s top-17 scorers (Brown – 24.7 ppg). Any hope of Boston escaping Round 1 relies on Walker shouldering a consistent No. 2 role behind star Jayson Tatum. However, Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale questions if an undersized, aging and readily-hobbled Walker is even capable of being a top-four option for the team moving forward — let alone a Robin to Tatum’s Batman.

“What happens this series, with Walker specifically, instead serves to inform the future: Never mind whether he can be the Celtics’ third-best player when they’re at full strength,” Favale wrote. “Is he still capable of being their fourth? And continuously? And with two years left on his max deal, what can the Celtics do if he’s not?”

What can the Celtics do? Essentially nothing. It’s easy to call on the team to ship Walker out of town — Kendrick Perkins is just the latest to call for such a move. Yet, the fact of the matter is Walker is on the wrong side of 30 and is owed north of $73.6 million over the next two seasons. Chances are any package Boston could yield in return for Walker’s services would fall far short of what Danny Ainge and company would perceive doable.

‘He’s Not an Asset, Let Alone a Star’: Spotty Jumper Hurting Kemba

A major reason for Walker’s diminishing value on the trade market is his ever-growing injury history. With that said, Favale believes there are far more concerns at play when it comes to Walker’s rocky output than just injuries.

“Context is everything. Walker has battled injuries all year,” Favale noted. “A left knee issue delayed his season debut until the middle of January and prevented him from playing both ends of back-to-backs. He then missed time with a strained left oblique. That’s not his fault.”

“It also doesn’t change reality. Walker is eminently huntable on defense,” he added. “The Nets know it and went at him. He picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter. Walker will fight—and the Celtics worked their tails off in Game 1—but he’s not an asset, let alone a star, when his jumpers aren’t falling and he’s neither finishing at the rim nor generating freebies from the foul line… Walker’s shooting splits seemingly seesaw by the day, and he’s no longer a secondary threat to put pressure on the basket and get to the charity stripe.”

Walker has received his fair share of criticism this season. Some of which we’d argue is far overblown. Yet, the fact of the matter is, Walker has taken a step back as a mid-range shooter. As Favale highlighted, he’s hit just 38.9 percent of his pull-up two-pointers this season. Combine that with the fact that he’s never exactly been lethal from beyond the arc (36.0% career 3-point percentage), and it’s fair to have your doubts about the veteran guard.

With that said, Walker still has the remainder of the series to help alter the depleting league-wide view of him. His first chance of doing so will come on Tuesday night in the Barclays Center, as the Celtics look to even the series to a game apiece.


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