#9: Kemba Walker
The Charlotte Bobcats’ second of two top-10 picks yielded Connecticut Huskies’ point guard Kemba Walker.
“I’m extremely happy to be going to Charlotte ,” Walker said.“I’m happy to be a New York City kid, being able to live his dream. A lot of guys from New York grow up dreaming about playing in the NBA, and here I am going to Charlotte playing for what people say is the greatest player to play this game, and I’m going to play for his team. I’m happy that he’s giving me this opportunity, this whole week, this whole weekend, I’ve been hearing a lot of things about myself, but he’s giving me a chance and I really appreciate it.“
Charlotte passed on Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight, whom many pegged as the second-best point guard in this draft class, at number seven to take Bismack Biyombo and followed that up two picks later at number nine with the drafting of Walker.
The junior out of the University of Connecticut averaged 23.5 points and 4.5 assists per game in his final collegiate season as one of the top point guards in the NCAA. Walker is very athletic and his excellent combination of speed and quickness allows him to carve up defenses with penetration in the lane.
Size remains an issue because, at just 6’1, Walker has had difficulty guarding bigger point guards on the defensive end– much like the player he will likely replace in D.J. Augustin. Regardless, Walker is explosive around the basket and has the type of offensive game that generally translates on the NBA-level.
Walker said after the pick that he has no problem splitting time in the backcourt with Augustin if that situation should arise.
“Well, I know a couple of guys on the team… but as far as sharing time with D.J., I have no problem,” Walker said. “As long as we are playing well and we are winning, if I can do anything, anything possible to help that team, I’m willing.”
That team-first mentality was definitely a factor in taking Walker in the top-10. Charlotte must be ecstatic about Walker’s leadership and decision-making ability on the court. The point guard, who will graduate a year early from UConn, has the smarts and displays the instincts that are the difference between a solid and spectacular point guard on the next level.
While he may not start right away, the pick of Walker signals the end of Augustin’s reign as the Bobcats’ starting point guard/point guard of the future.