The Boston Celtics may have lost Kyrie Irving this offseason, but they replaced him with the next best thing in Kemba Walker, a player who is probably more similar to Irving than any other point guard in the NBA.
Walker spent the first eight years of his career with the Charlotte Hornets (previously the Bobcats), making the All-Star team in each of his final three seasons with the club.
He is coming off a 2018-19 campaign in which he averaged a career-high 25.6 points per game, and now, he is joining a Celtics system led by Brad Stevens that has been very kind to point guards in the past (just ask Isaiah Thomas).
So, here are three numbers for Walker to target during his first season in Boston.
3. Shoot 38 percent from 3-point range
Walker is a lifetime 35.7 percent 3-point shooter who made 35.6 percent of his long-distance tries last season, but in the preceding three years, he made 37.1, 39.9 and 38.4 percent of his triples, respectively, and on very high volume at that.
Based on that, there is no reason why Walker shouldn’t be able to hit 38 percent of his treys with the Celtics in 2019-20, especially considering Boston has an offense that is much more conducive to efficiency than Charlotte’s.
With Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Enes Kanter also representing very viable offensive threats, Walker should get his fair share of good looks, as opposed to his time with the Hornets, where defenses keyed on him.
Walker may not be the shooter Irving is, but is just as good—if not better—of a long-rang shooter as the aforementioned Thomas, who made 37.9 percent of his treys in his final season with the Celtics in 2016-17.
2. Shoot 45 percent from the floor
Believe it or not, this is something Walker has never done in his NBA career.
The 29-year-old made a career-high 44.4 percent of his field goal attempts in 2016-17 and is a lifetime 41.8 percent shooter from the floor.
Now, to be fair to Walker, his career shooting percentage is bogged down by his early seasons, as he shot under 40 percent from the field in three of his first four years in the league.
Walker has grown significantly as a player since then and has shot 42.7, 44.4, 43.1 and 43.4 percent in each of his last four seasons, respectively, but he has yet to hit the 45 percent mark.
Look for Walker to do just that in his inaugural campaign in Beantown.
1. Average 22 Points Per Game
Walker averaged just under 26 points per game in his final season with the Hornets, but he likely won’t have to score that much in Boston.
The Celtics have much more dangerous offensive weapons around Walker than Charlotte did, and it would not be surprising to see Walker’s shot attempts dip from the 20.5 field goal attempts he averaged in 2018-19 as a result.
Remember: a healthy Hayward is also a 20-point scorer, and Tatum may end up averaging around 18 a game this season, so there might not be enough points to go around for Walker to average 25-26 a night again.
But 22 seems like a healthy number and should be enough to make the Celtics’ offense function properly.