I didn’t see it with Kemba Walker.
The UConn star absolutely exploded in leading the Huskies to the 2011 National Championship and, with that performance as the engine, Walker’s NBA Draft stock skyrocketed. It was easy to be drawn to the magnetism Walker displayed as a college player, as he made every play necessary to lead his team to a title in a way that has only been replicated a handful of times in recent history.
That recipe led Walker to the Charlotte Hornets as the No. 9 pick. That felt like a reach. NCAA Tournament standouts that jump in the draft often don’t work out, as teams fall victim to small sample size theater at the expense of actual professional projection. After a rookie NBA season in which he posted a 46.4 percent true shooting (amid other scary statistics), any and all skepticism looked to be quite warranted.
From there, though, Walker emerged as a legitimate starting option for the Hornets as his shooting stabilized and he clearly improved from an efficiency perspective while developing his defensive skills from ugly to adequate. That inspired a three-year run of solid play that already ensured that many pre-draft evaluations (including yours truly) would be proven wrong and few doubted Walker as an entrenched figure in Charlotte following the 2014-2015 season.