Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kemba - Bust or Star?

I want to root against Kemba Walker, but I simply can't.  He picked up apart my beloved Villanova Wildcats time and time again, but I have the ultimate respect for Kemba. Walker embodied the leadership role during Connecticut's run to the National Championship. Kemba showed the type of progression that you love to see in a budding star, as he went from averaging 9 points during his freshman year, to 14.6 during his sophomore year, and finally 23.5 during his junior year. His talent is undeniable and he has shown that he won't crumble late in games.  He hit so many "clutch" shots to win games this year, but that's not even why I love watching him play.  He is one of the most well-rounded guards we have seen in college basketball in the past decade or so.  He isn't a great defender, but his effort makes him effective. Standing at 6'1, Kemba isn't exactly a big body, but he's a solid rebounder. He uses his smarts to grab boards and when he gets the ball, he turns around and uses his blazing speed to start a one man fast break. 

Kemba is not afraid to defer to teammates when necessary, shown by his 5 assists per game last year; however, he is always ready to take the game over when the team calls his name. With the game on the line, he will create his own shot and more often than not, he will convert.  For example, in the Big East tournament against Pittsburgh, Walker was just 7-21 from the field when he hit the game winner as time expired. When I saw that play, I thought I was watching a video game.  With Pitt's big man, McGhee, covering him, Kemba executed a perfect crossover, fake drive, step back jumper. To do that in a game where he struggled to hit anything shows a lot about his character.  He's confident in his ability to score and his teammates wouldn't want anybody else in the country taking that shot. 

So how will he fare in the NBA? I'm no expert, but I believe that Kemba's got the heart, dedication, and talent to succeed as a professional.  Walker plays the game the right way and if he is drafted into a good system, he will be an all-star down the road.  He is way too small to play the 2, but he has the handles and quickness to run the point. His rookie year might be a roller coaster, but with many experts predicting him landing in Sacramento or Detroit, he will be able to play through his struggles. 

I see Detroit as the perfect team for Kemba, because they have the scorers necessary for him to become a valuable point guard. It would be a nightmare for a rookie to have to carry the scoring load, so Kemba will be able to use his vision on the floor to create opportunities for others. He very well might be too undersized to succeed, but you rarely see someone that dominant and complete fail at the next level. He won't take the league by storm right away, but I still think he has the abillity to run an offense at the professional level.

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