Kemba Walker drops 40 points in a disappointing overtime loss
Name this player. Since the start of the new year, he’s has averaged 25.5 points and 6.0 assists on 41.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc while knocking down 87.2 percent of his 6.2 free-throw attempts per night.
If you guessed Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard or Steph Curry, I’m sorry to say you’re incorrect. If you somehow managed to guess Kemba Walker, congratulations on hitting the nail right on the head.
Kemba Walker has undoubtedly been one of the top five point guards in the NBA since 2018 began. His numbers compare favorably with those of the aforementioned superstars, and though he only received an All-Star game bid following an untimely injury to Knicks’ center Kristaps Porzingis, Walker definitely deserves to be held in the same light as those household names.
Thursday night, he put his full scoring arsenal on display as he singlehandedly directed the Portland Trailblazers’ defense for 40 points. Like a broken record repeating over and over again, no matter how good Walker has played this season, the Hornets just can’t seem to catch up to his stellar level of play.
Walker led all scorers in the overtime affair, but Charlotte lost 103-109 in a contest in which they only held the lead at 2-0 in the first few seconds of regulation. The Hornets were down by as much as 17 points, and although they fought their way back even with Portland to force an extra quarter, they never really had control of the game.
The two-time All-Star’s name came up in multiple trade scenarios before the deadline, but ultimately Charlotte decided to retain their franchise cornerstone and continue to push for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Buzz City sits within arm’s reach of the eighth and final playoff seed in their conference, but with average play at best, it’s doubtful they will climb the few sports they need to clinch a playoff berth.
The Charlotte Hornets middling defense plus the fact they’re one of the worst shooting teams in the league make for a pretty terrible mixture that has plagued their season in mediocre. They had much to gain by adding a few versatile 3-and-D wings to their roster, but Walker and crew left the seasonal trade deadline with nothing but disgruntled Knicks’ big man Willy Hernangomez.
Kemba Walker is on one of the contracts in the NBA. Charlotte only owes him $24 million over this season and next and they should really look to bolster their roster during the next free agency period.
Dwight Howard and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are being terribly overpaid for their limited services. Neither player is the defender they once were, and in the pace and space NBA of today there’s simply no room for bigs whose range can’t expand beyond 5 feet from the basket.
Both Howard and Kidd-Gilchrist are liabilities at this point and while they’re albatross contracts are huge red flags for most organizations, some teams will be willing to bite on a trade for a big name regardless of the practicality. I’m not trying to say either player is completely useless, obviously they wouldn’t have stuck around the NBA for so long if that was the case, but both players need to go in order for Charlotte to make forward progress in the ever-changing landscape of the league.