By now, NBA season previews are rolling out. Countless basketball sites, podcasts and television shows are breaking down all 30 teams, projecting how each will fare based on additions and subtractions. I would like to do something different and focus on teams through the fish-eyed lens of their respective most intriguing player or players. I continue with the Charlotte Hornets.
The Charlotte Hornets made the playoffs last year. They played seven hotly contested but aesthetically unappealing games against the Miami Heat before ultimately succumbing to Dwyane Wade just being the best player in the series.
I bring that up because I have no idea how this team that included Al Jefferson last year flirted with having homecourt advantage in the first round until the last week of the season. I don't know who on this roster is interesting and impactful enough to make the Hornets alluring this season. What I'm saying is: How can we help Kemba Walker?
Very little seems to be going right in Charlotte. Due to an immoral and unjust law, the city is losing major sports revenue as the NCAA and NBA pull their events out of there. Buzz City has such a buzz for reasons other than basketball.
Meanwhile, Kemba Walker is just there, existing. A near All-Star last year, he is growing his game. He has undoubtedly gotten better in each of his five NBA seasons, increasing his scoring average every year. The problem is he is good at playing a position in which there are many great players at said position. In an Association with full of aces, Walker is a solid jack — good but not mentioned among higher-valued faces. So Kemba gets left out of the discussion of the game's up-and-coming talents, somewhat lost in the shuffle of the deck. His deficiencies are highlighted when compared to the greats at the one guard. For example, he is a career 40.3 percent field goal shooter. That doesn't bode well for someone who has to make a lot of one-on-one plays as a smallish player.
I'm not sure what Kemba can do to improve the situation around him. As he becomes a better player, better players are also improving. Since most of them are around his age, there won't be any windows in his career that are absent of the likes of John Wall, Kyle Lowry and Jeff Teague. And those players are a tier or two below Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Iriving, all of whom are within two years of Kemba's current age of 26. Now, there is the possibility of Walker raising the level of his ability to the point where selecting him for the All-Star team is undeniable. But at this point, it is very unlikely. Flat out, it doesn't look promising for Kemba to grow to be substantially better than his contemporaries.
That leaves team success as a way to brighten Walker's star. Charlotte may be a playoff team because of a weak Eastern Conference, but that does not necessarily make the Hornets a good team. Other than Walker and maybe Nic Batum, the Hornets don't have another player on their roster who garners any real attention. The team wears "Buzz City" across its chest in those snazzy alternate uniforms, but the rest of the roster is vapid at best. Walker hinges on being just a decent player as his team is just a decent team. Hopefully, Kemba can lead himself and his teammates to a place of prominence. Otherwise, he may be left wondering, "Where the (expletive) is the help?"
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse's good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.