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The Kemba Conundrum

 

Boston, we have a problem.

As many know, the sequel to the greatest basketball movie ever made - Space Jam - is set to release this coming summer. As any film aficionado knows, the premise of the first movie involves a group of aliens who steal the talents of NBA stars such as Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing in order to beat the Looney Tunes in a game of basketball.

With the second film imminent, it seems likely that the Monstars are on the hunt for talent again, and they may have already gotten to Kemba Walker.

All joking aside, Kemba's performance of late has been concerning at best, and catastrophic at worst. And, even if Lebron is able to save the day and return his powers, I'm not convinced how much help he'd offer the Cs anyways.

To be effective, Kemba needs to have the ball in his hands. While he competes defensively, his size will always make him a liability on that end. Likewise, he is not a maestro floor general like Chris Paul or Steve Nash, so looking for buckets is his main value. 

Obviously, Walker hasn't looked good in his return from his chronic knee issues. He is struggling to get separation, and lacks the explosion and lift that made him such a dynamic player in the past. If this is the Kemba that we're going to get from now on, he will have to drastically change his game to even stay on an NBA roster. 

I doubt that Kemba will be a 30% shooter for the rest of his career, however. Yet, even if he were to regain his All-Star form from last year, where does that leave the green? It's quite obvious at this point that Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are the present and future of this roster, and everything this team does should revolve around them. Unless Kemba is actively looking to average 10 APG feeding the Jays, any possession run through him is a wasted one. The more reps that Brown and Tatum - and, to a lesser extent, guys like Marcus Smart and Payton Pritchard - get to run the offense the better, as all of those players have plenty of room to grow as scorers and facilitators. Taking those away to try and wring some value out of Kemba's max contract does nothing to improve the title chances of this team in the short or long term.

So what is there to do? Walker's trade value at the moment is approximately two paper clips and a peanut butter sandwich, so there's really nothing to be done there. Likewise, moving him to the bench brings a whole other host of problems. Turning your All-Star, 30 million dollars a year PG into a glorified (and possibly not as good) Lou Williams would be a nightmare for all parties involved, so that seems unlikely as well. And, even if he shakes the rust off and starts playing at a high level, is that any better? Every play for a 30 year old Kemba is one less for the young, developing pieces of the roster. Even if it wins a few more games in the short term, nobody can argue that that would be helpful to the long-term chances of this squad.

Kemba has, at this point, become an issue for the Celtics. And it's up to Danny and Brad to find a solution - sooner rather than later. 


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Comments

  1. I love Kemba Walker. His smile is infectious. When at his best he can absolutely be a difference maker. However it may not be a big enough difference to warrant starters minutes anymore. Kemba’s value has always been his non-reluctance to shoot the three. He can get a lot of points very quickly. With Pritchard on this team it no longer justifies playing Kemba starters minutes. PP shoots the three at higher percentage, turns the ball over less, and is a better defender. As much as it pains me to say this, Kemba either needs to accept a 6th man role or be open to a trade. Whatever he chooses I will always root for him.

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