There are always great underdog stories that never get enough attention, and the NBA’s star point guards are no exception.
As a sophomore playing for the University of Connecticut, Kemba Walker put up quality numbers of 14.6 points, 5.1 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game. However, he was labeled little and was not highly sought-after by NBA teams.
And then came March 2011: Admit it, we all tried to imitate the step-back vs. Pitt.
Little did we know, ninth-seeded UConn would go on to win the 2011 national championship.
Walker finished his junior season averaging nearly 24 points per game. But more importantly, he left his footprint on the sport. It was one of the most iconic runs college basketball has ever seen after the Huskies started the season unranked.
However, this was only the beginning for the future All-Star, which leads us to today.
Entering his ninth season, Kemba Walker will play his first in a jersey not representing the city of Charlotte. His four-year, $141 million contract with the Boston Celtics also left his footprint on the modern NBA.
So, where does Kemba Walker rank among the NBA’s active point guards?
After this season, his third as an All-Star, Kemba Walker has entered the top-five point guard realm.
While Kyle Lowry is now an NBA champion and a five-time All-Star, he’s still individually not as good as the kid from the Bronx. Furthermore, James Harden isn’t being counted as a point guard; he played much more shooting guard with Chris Paul around and will continue to do so with Russell Westbrook in town.
Allow me to explain my decision…
The 2018-19 season only continued to make Kemba Walker a household name, even with the Hornets fumbling around in mediocrity thanks to a poor roster around him. Furthermore, he has opened up the conversation for him being among the most underrated athletes, let alone NBA players. Many casual fans wouldn’t include Kemba Walker as one of the NBA’s elite, but he is.
Aside from Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving, Walker has the best handles among NBA point guards. His ability to create space for himself to sink jumpers or room to drive to the hole is what sets him apart from so many of his peers.
Next, his ability to simply put the ball in the bucket is nearly unmatched. But not just for 60 games; all 82 games, 35 minutes a night. What we have been watching is peak Kemba Walker, and it’s a thing of beauty.
At 29 years old, Walker is right in the middle of his prime. He just played all 82 games and put up a career-high 484 dimes this past season. He also averaged a career-high 25.6 points per game. He also set career highs in free throws (380) and 3-pointers (260).
Only four other points guards were in the top 50 for both: Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Mike Conley, and rookie Luka Doncic.
At only 6-foot-1, Walker is a liability on defense, but he has worked on that side of the floor in the last few seasons. Many of today’s top point guards aren’t lockdown defenders, but at least Walker has improved tremendously and puts in effort on that end of the court. The Celtics going from Irving to Walker on that end isn’t much of a difference, and Kemba is nearly as good as Kyrie offensively but without the baggage.
For the people in the back…
Let’s say it one more time: Kemba Walker has become a top-five point guard in the NBA.