Analyst Dunks on Knicks Over Kemba: ‘You Just Don’t Know How to Use Him’

Kemba Walker Tom Thibodeau Knicks

Getty Tom Thibodeau and Kemba Walker pose for a photo at the latter's New York Knicks introductory presser.

In analyzing the decision of Tom Thibodeau to bench four-time All-Star Kemba Walker, it’s plain to see why the New York Knicks coach made the move. Walker’s defense has left something to be desired for some time now. And his overall impact on the court has been negative throughout the early campaign.

We’re not just talking a little bit negative, either. As of this writing, the Knicks are an incredible 22.1 points per 100 possessions better with Walker on the bench. In the 441 minutes that he played before getting dropped from the team’s rotation, New York was outscored by 122 points.

Nevertheless, the fact that Walker went from starting at the point to not playing at all is a stunner. And not everyone is down with Thibodeau’s handling of the situation.

For his part, league mainstay and Inside the NBA star Kenny “The Jet” Smith isn’t buying what the Knicks are selling. He believes that Walker’s banishment says more about the team and its coach than it does about the player in question.

Kenny Smith Shades the Knicks for Kemba’s Demotion

Kenny Smith Says Thibodeau Doesn't Know How to Use Kemba Walker, He's a Ferrari! | TMZ SportsKemba Walker getting benched isn't his problem, it's his coach's … so says Kenny "The Jet" Smith, who tells TMZ Sports the guard is a Ferrari and Tom Thibodeau doesn't know how to drive it. SUBSCRIBE — About TMZ Sports: Some of the best stories in sports have been off the field and we’re…2021-12-03T09:00:01Z

As the outlet is wont to do, TMZ caught up with Smith at LAX and pressed him on New York’s handling of Walker. When asked if the team made the wrong decision by bringing him on board over the summer, the player-turned-broadcaster pushed back a little.

“Well, I mean, I don’t know if it’s a wrong decision to pick up Kemba Walker. I think it’s a wrong decision if you thought he was going to be used in a different way,” he said.

Smith noted that there’s at least one area where Walker still has a lot to offer. Then he threw down on Thibodeau and Co. for failing to capitalize on it.

“The guy is a great offensive player and you just don’t know how to use him, that’s really what you’re saying. You’re not saying that he can’t play…” Smith said. “It’s on the coach and the organization just not understanding what [the] value of a guy like this [is] — what they paid for.”

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Thibodeau the Sunday Driver

For the year, Walker is averaging just 11.7 points and 3.1 assists per contest; numbers that represent new career lows. To Smith’s point, though, he has also been limited to just 24.5 minutes per game by Thibodeau. And Walker was still ripping the nets from distance, connecting on 41.3% of his triples in 2021-22.

As Smith sees it, this is a classic case of trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Or, rather, putting your Nan behind the wheel of your luxury sports car.

“You can have a Ferrari, but [if] you drive it 30 miles an hour… what’s the use?” Smith wondered.


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