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Losing A Hard Lesson For Kemba Walker
Posted By Lang Greene On April 5, 2012 @ 9:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
One of the toughest adjustments NBA rookies face entering the league doesn’t involve adapting to the physicality of playing against grown men night in and night out.
The mental component of the professional game can be just as tough to overcome. Specifically, the amount of losing most lottery picks will endure their first few seasons in the league.
Charlotte Bobcats rookie point guard Kemba Walker is no exception to the rule. Walker’s high school and college teams always performed on the plus side of the win-loss column, but this season has been an entirely tougher pill to swallow.
Selected with the No. 9 overall pick of the 2011 draft by the Charlotte Bobcats, Walker has toiled through the franchise’s worst campaign (based on win percentage) since entering the league during the 2005 season.
Through it all Walker has played in all 52 of the team’s games this season; earning a starting spot, then losing the earned starting spot and enduring the normal frustrations rookies face while transitioning to the pro game.
The constant losing has undoubtedly been a mentally draining experience for Walker but he still manages to put a positive spin on the season.
“I’m holding up pretty well,” Walker tells HOOPSWORLD despite the Bobcats’ woeful 7-45 record on the season. “All I can really do is just stay positive and just learn from these experiences. Everyone goes through adversity at some point in their career and this is just my time. The only thing I can do is get better.”
Walker served as the Bobcats’ starting point guard from January 14 until February 15 of this year as veteran guard DJ Augustin battled injuries.
But he’s only been able to crack the starting lineup once since then.
In 18 games as a starter Walker’s averages of 15 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists ranks right along with other starters throughout the league at the point guard position.
However, despite proving he’s more than capable as a starter but still being relegated back into a reserve role, Walker says the demotion hasn’t left any lingering feelings of resentment in his mind.
“Starting or on the bench doesn’t matter to me really,” Walker said. “I’m still going to come out and give 100 percent effort so, no, not really at all. I just want to go out there and do all that I can to help my team win.”
Head coach Paul Silas says his decision to roll with the veteran at point guard isn’t indicative of Walker’s performance this season or future in the league.
Silas says Walker has exceeded his expectations in the lockout shortened season.
“I still want to play Kemba as much as I can,” Silas said. “D.J. of course is our starting point guard, but Kemba is growing. He’s succeeding. It does take time. He hasn’t had a lot of practice time. For him to succeed as well as he’s done is very exciting.”
The team’s standings in the win-loss column may not reflect much change experienced by the club since the start of the season on the surface, but Walker says even though the victories aren’t piling up he feels the club is growing leaps and bounds by the day.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth,” Walker said despite the continued losses not showing the progress on the surface. “We work hard even though we lose. We really do work really hard. We’re a tight knit group and we try our best to get better every game. I think we’ve been doing a good job of that. Over the last few weeks we’ve lost some close games, you can tell we’re getting better. Everybody is working hard even though our record is pretty bad, but the only thing we can do is keep fighting.”
Regardless of how this season ends Walker believes the product Bobcats fans will see on the floor next season will be much more improved, but also hinted that Bobcats management may decide to shake up the roster at the end of the year as well.
“As far as the team everyone just needs to get stronger and better throughout the offseason,” Walker said. “I’m not sure if the front office is going to make any changes or anything like that, but everyone here will be a lot better after going through this season from the experience of it.”
More Bobcats News
The Emergence Of Byron Mullens: One of the positive aspects of watching a team in a rebuilding phase like the Bobcats is witnessing the emergence of players who would be buried deep on the bench in other places.
Case in point, Bobcats big man Byron Mullens played a combined 139 minutes during his first two seasons in the league with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Mullens was a true forgotten man, but in Charlotte this season he’s averaging 21 minutes per night and has recorded 12 starts for the franchise.
In the starting lineup Mullens has averaged 12.8 points and 6.4 rebounds, while over his last three starts, Mullens averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds.
If Mullens was still in Oklahoma City this season he would only see the court in garbage time behind Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison.
We all know Mullens has some offensive spark to his game, but over the second half of the season he’s showed the knack to get down and dirty by rebounding the basketball and becoming more active trying to block shots.
It’s this new-found aggression on the defensive end of the floor which has impressed Kemba Walker the most about his teammate.
“Byron is getting a lot better,” Walker told HOOPSWORLD. “He can definitely shoot the basketball very well. But his progression has been on the boards. He’s been doing a really good at contesting shots, boxing out and then grabbing rebounds. That’s what we need from him. When his shot isn’t falling he has to realize that he can do other things. Rebounding is one of them. Another thing is blocking some more shots.”
In a season where there haven’t been many positives for the Bobcats faithful to latch on, the play of Walker and Mullens have given glimpses of a solid future.
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