Kemba Walker provides hope for the losing Charlotte Bobcats.
He struggled as a rookie during the first portion of last year’s locked-out season.
Since then, Walker has improved in every statistical category except for turnovers, where he averages 2.3 this year as opposed to last season’s 1.8.
He currently averages 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game, as of Feb. 26.
But those are merely numbers. What Walker has done for this oft-struggling franchise is more than that—he is the face of Charlotte's future.
This is the breakdown of Walker’s continuous rise in the NBA.
It was not a tough decision for owner Michael Jordan to pick Kemba Walker ninth overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.
After all, Jordan, like the rest of the world, witnessed Walker carry his Connecticut team on his back en route to the 2011 NCAA national championship two months prior to the draft.
Paul Silas was the head coach at the time and said that Jordan saw himself in Walker.
“He said, ‘If he can lead that ballclub to the championship, he has what I have—the determination to do it,’” Silas told FOXSportsSouth.com’s Andrew Jones two years ago.
The formula can be pretty simple for the Bobcats: Putting the ball in Kemba’s hands during crunch time can lead to great results.
His ball-handling skills are superb, but the poise on this 22-year-old is incomparable. He slashes and dashes while leaving his defenders scratching their heads.
Forget the fact that the Bobcats are a losing team. There is no question of the Bobcats’ potential with Walker leading the offense.
Michael Jordan is a well-known addict to winning, which contributed to him being deemed as the greatest baller of all time. If this guy is vouching for Walker, there isn’t much wrong Walker can do.
He’s giving them a reason to believe, and the Bobcats could very well be a .500 team within the next couple of seasons.
Strong Work Ethic
Walker had a dishearteningly ho-hum rookie year, where he shot 37 percent from the field.
It did not help that the season was shortened to 66 games due to the lockout.
Because of this, it was difficult for Walker to adjust to the next level without help from summer league games and one-on-one training.
Walker chose to spend his time in the offseason wisely. Instead of hitting up sweet vacation spots overseas, he stayed in Charlotte to work on his shot at the gym.
In an interview with the Charlotte Observer last August, Walker declared that the Bobcats have “big things” coming in the future.
Well, the Bobcats are already six games better than last year’s historically terrible season. What needs to happen now is for other Bobcats players to help Walker out when he’s having a great game.
Still, it is refreshing for Bobcats fans to see that they have a budding franchise player who is dedicated to making impactful improvements for the team.
Walker is familiar with this situation, though.
His intense determination was first noticed at 13 when he wowed St. John’s Director of Operations Moe Hicks, who was coaching at Rice High in Harlem at the time.
Walker led Rice to a state title during his senior year in 2008 and did the same for UConn three years later as a junior.
It’s only his second year in the big leagues, but he could be a serious candidate for Most Improved Player.
There is no limit to what Walker can do to make his team a competitive force in the Eastern Conference.
The Go-To Guy
Coach Mike Dunlap expressed that he wanted Walker to be a more vocal communicator as opposed to his silent, polite approach.
Walker certainly mastered the art of quiet leadership through his performance. He has also gained the respect of his teammates, younger and older.
That can happen when your team relies on you to not only be the floor general, but to be the No. 1 clutch player.
His ability to make tough shots do not show up on the stat sheet, but can be a huge disadvantage for opposing teams.
Sometimes Walker can be brutal as he embarrasses his defenders with sick crossovers and broken ankles.
In a one-on-one dual between two sophomore point guards, Walker schooled Knight with a crossover more killer than Allen Iverson's.
Then he topped it off with a sweet floater that forced the game into overtime on Jan. 6. The Bobcats walked away with a victory.
It’s no secret that Walker thrives in the lane. He was ranked fifth in converting three-point plays, according to a report conducted by the Elias Sports Bureau on Feb. 16.
Walker has definitely proven that he is the Bobcats’ most reliable player.
“I’m a playmaker,” Walker told the Observer’s Rick Bonnell back in July. “I can pass, shoot the jumper and get to the rim.”
Will Kemba Walker Help Turn the Bobcats into a Winning Team?
Simply put, Kemba Walker is the man on the Bobcats who will do whatever it takes to win.
And while he’s there, the glory days of basketball in Charlotte could soon be restored.