(Courtesy BKTajery Productions LLC)
Maturation- The action or process of maturing
That word can be used to describe the play of Charlotte Bobcats 3rd year guard Kemba Walker. One glance at his stats will cause you to see his awful 33% shooting from the field but further research will show you that he is impacting in the game in other areas which has helped the Bobcats get off to a 5-5 start.
Take Friday night’s game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers for example he shot 4-19 but still left his imprint on the game with 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocks. For most players shooting that poorly from the field would result in a terrible night not only for him but the team itself. Keep in mind that Walker was matched up against Kyrie Irving, and could have easily let his sub-par offensive play effect his defensive effort but it didn't and that shows his maturity. Take a look at Saturday’s game against the Heat. Kemba had 22 points to go with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, one block, and only 1 turnover. No one else was scoring on that night, so he stepped up and contributed points. A mature point guard has to contribute where he’s needed the most, and he’s doing just that.
Kemba has been in a shooting slump going 25-96 from the field (26%) over the last 6 games but the Bobcats are 3-3 with 2 road victories over the Cavaliers and Celtics in that span. Kemba shot horribly in all 3 of those wins (2-13 vs Raptors) (1-13 vs Celtics) but the common denominator in both of those wins is Kemba's impact beyond scoring. In Boston he had 9 rebounds which for an undersized guard is no small feat in the NBA. In the Raptors game he had 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal. So what you are seeing is the maturation of one of the best young point guards in the NBA as he is finding other ways to help his team get victories.
Walker is doing things that have played a vital role in the team’s 5-5 start but he needs to start being more efficient and consistent in the scoring department in order for the team to continue to win as the season progresses. He has one of the best step-back or pull up jumpers from 15 feet in the league today. As good as that shot is though he must start finding more ways to get to the rim and finish strong at the basket. More efficient free throw shooting would certainly help out as well. There’s no reason he should be shooting 75% at the line. For him, 80% should be a minimum from the charity stripe.
Kemba is a guy who I have heard countless basketball experts and analysts say over and over again that he will be a leader on a winning team many times before his career is over. Is that time finally here? Only time will tell. Kemba is maturing as a player, and it’s time for the basketball world to start taking notice.