Kemba Walker’s move to the Boston Celtics is perhaps one of the most underrated deals that went down in a crazy summer. On any other offseason, a Top 5 point guard in the league switching sides would have been monumental, but in the case of this landscape-shifting summer we just had, Walker’s time in the limelight was, at best, short-lived.
This might actually prove to be a good thing for both Walker and Boston, considering the fact that at this point, they’re pretty much flying under the radar. Majority of the spotlight will be cast on the two L.A. teams, the Houston Rockets, and the Philadelphia 76ers, to name a few, leaving the C’s with some much-needed breathing room to work out on whatever flaws they may have early on.
For his part, we’re expecting a pretty big year for Kemba, as this is going to be the first time in his career that he will be surrounded with an all-around playoff-caliber team. Below, we highlight three predictions on what should be a memorable campaign for the 6-foot-1 point guard.
Less Work, More Play
After eight years of carrying the burden of an entire franchise on his shoulders, Walker will be entering the 2019-20 season with a whole new set of teammates, and a brand new outlook on life in the NBA. The big difference is that this time around, he’s going to be getting a lot of help.
Young and hungry studs like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be coming out with a point to prove, and so will former All-Star swingman Gordon Hayward. A feisty Marcus Smart is a playoffs veteran, and the same can be said about new big man recruit Enes Kanter.
All in all, the pressure on Walker will no longer be as overwhelming, with the offensive load properly distributed throughout a team that does not have a lack of firepower. Kemba’s scoring will likely take a dip (he logged a career-high 25.6 points per contest last season on a 43.4-percent clip), but conversely, we should see a rise in his efficiency. Moreover, by being surrounded by a number of potent scorers, Walker’s assist total should increase, and he might just be able to better his career-best 6.1-assist average from the 2013-14 season.
Whatever the case may be, Walker is going to have a lot of fun this year.
Another All-Star Season
Will Kemba have an Isaiah Thomas-like Cinderella story in Boston and go as far as being a Top 3 MVP candidate this season? Nope, that’s highly unlikely. He probably won’t even be in the conversation. Nevertheless, we are expecting another All-Star nod for the 29-year-old, marking this as his fourth consecutive selection on the prestigious squad.
23 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and a steal per ballgame should be enough for Walker to earn his ticket to Chicago for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.
A Top 4 Finish in a Wide Open East
So the big question is, how far will Kemba be able to lead the Celtics this coming season? Well, we’re thinking Walker and the C’s will end up as a Top 4 seed in the Eastern Conference this year — the number four seed to be exact.
With former Celtics big man Al Horford joining the party in Philly, we expect the Philadelphia 76ers to finish at the very top of the East, edging out Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, who will need some time to adjust to life without Malcolm Brogdon. Even without Kawhi Leonard in the picture, the Raptors still have a pretty strong side, and they should be able to sneak into the third seed in the conference.
Walker has been to the playoffs just twice in his career, with both occasions ending in early first-round exits (ironically both against the Miami Heat). This should be the year that Walker is able to get out of the first round, and do we dare say a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals might just be in the books?
What we are certain of is that this is going to be a very important year — perhaps the most important one — in Kemba’s career. His first season with the Celtics should be a foretelling of how the next few years in Boston will unfold with Walker at the helm.
Will Kemba Walker prove to be a guy capable of being the face of one of the most decorated franchises in the history of the league? The answer, we believe, is a resounding yes.