The NBA Draft is simply the most important time of the year for rebuilding
franchises. Just ask the Portland Trail Blazers. Whether it is the next Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant, or the next Sam Bowie and Greg Oden, we are out to identify the legitimate prospects from the phony ones. Every week, we will deliver a profile of a top prospect and breakdown their game. We will give you player comparisons, ratings, outside opinions on the prospects, and much more. Last week we had Duke University’s Kyrie Irving, and this week’s prospect is University of Connecticut point guard Kemba Walker.
Ceiling: Isiah Thomas
Basement: Bobby Jackson
Final Comparison: Terrell Brandon
Ratings (on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being overseas talent and 10 being NBA Rookie of the Year)
The NBA game is all about speed and that is something Kemba Walker is the master of. Not only does he have blinding speed, but he has many gears as well. In the NBA, he will have above average speed considering that nobody in college could even imagine staying in front on him. Also, Walker possesses great body control and strength. When he drives through the lane, Walker knows how to absorb the contact, shift his body and finish with the best of them. Similar to Kyrie Irving, Walker is not going to soar through the lane for a poster dunk, but there’s no doubt that Walker will do more than just hang with prototypical NBA point guards.
There’s no doubt that Walker has all of the skills required to be a good NBA point guard. He could definitely improve his shooting range, but his ability to shoot is not much of a problem. His decision making, however, is an issue. That applies to both his shot selection and passing ability. He had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.98 and took a handful of questionable shots every game. At the same time, can we blame Walker for having this mentality? He needed to have the ball in his hands a lot this season due to the youth of the rest of his team. It will be interesting to see if he can become a full-time point guard in the NBA.
Decision making comes with experience and that may be Walker’s biggest adjustment to the NBA. Also size will be a factor, but he did measure well at the combine at 6-1. There’s no doubt that he will be able to score right away, which is definitely a good thing for rebuilding teams. He also has an NBA-ready physique unlike many young prospects. Defensively, Walker will also make an impact instantly. Remember, before Walker became known as a scorer, he was known as a great defender.
Walker does not have the upside of other players in this draft because he is close to being a finished product. How much better can he get at this rate? He already proved his worth in the NCAA by winning the National Championship. There is certainly room for improvement, but not as much as NBA teams likes. One thing that may make Walker’s upside underrated: intangibles.
If there is one quality that NBA general managers simply cannot overlook, it is the ability to win. So few players are consistently as successful as Walker was last year in college. Even if Walker ended up being an average player, his wining mentality is what will keep him in the NBA for a long time. He makes players around him better and has the “it” factor, which certainly bodes well for his future.