We’re only a month into the NBA season, and all everyone wants to talk about is the Draymond Green-Kevin Durant feud or LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Anytime the MVP debate comes up, everyone wants to mention Kawhi Leonard and the 14-4 Raptors, or Giannis Antetokounmpo and the 14-4 Milwaukee Bucks. There’s no problem with Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo, as they are both having incredible seasons, but largely overlooked is the situation going on in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Charlotte Hornets are 8-8 this season led by all-star point guard Kemba Walker. Is led even the right word though? Kemba Walker isn’t leading, but rather carrying this entire roster on his back, averaging 29.6 points per game, which is the most in the NBA. He’s shooting 46.5% from the field, and 38.9% from downtown, and also averaging 6.1 assists per game, and 4.4 rebounds per game. Cardiac Kemba is dominating NBA opponents right now (had to refer to him as Cardiac Kemba at least once here).
That will forever be one of my favorite plays of all-time. Anyway… let’s move back into the present.
The Hornets being .500, and currently in a playoff spot is what makes Kemba Walker’s start to the season even more impressive. Think about this Charlotte roster… The second best player on this team is Nic Batum, who’s far past his prime, and averaging just 9 points per game, and nearly 6 rebounds per game. The second leading scorer on this team, is Jeremy Lamb, who’s averaging 13.7 points per game. Imagine having Jeremy Lamb as your second scoring option, and being a .500 team! Lamb would be a solid bench scorer on a contending roster, but by no means is he a real second scoring option.
I’m not done talking about this roster though. The Hornets’ fourth leading scorer is Tony Parker, who’s 36 years old! The rest of the roster is comprised of NBA Draft busts, such as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Bismack Biyombo. To add, they do have two other promising young players in the infant stages of their careers in Malik Monk and Miles Bridges. However, while Monk and Bridges may have a bright future, their impact right now isn’t that significant.
If Kemba Walker wasn’t on this team, would this team be where Cleveland is at 2-13 at the bottom of the Eastern Conference? Probably. To give you an idea of the dead-weight that Kemba is carrying, think about this. On Saturday night, Kemba Walker dropped 60 points against the 76ers IN A LOSS. Walker scored 60 of his team’s 119 points, shooting 21/34 from the field. The rest of the team shot the ball 65 times, and only made 21! This means the rest of the team shot 32.3% from the field.
On Monday night, Kemba Walker scored 43 points in a win vs. the Celtics. He went 7/13 from three-point range in this game. The rest of the Hornets shot 8/28 from downtown, which is a whopping 28.6%!
🗣 THIS IS MY S–T
Fresh off dropping 60, Kemba just put up 43 against the Celtics 😳 pic.twitter.com/I6NjtKoPVd
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 20, 2018
Kemba Walker is bailing this team out right now. The success of Walker, a 6’0″ point guard, has a striking resemblance to Isaiah Thomas’s season with the Celtics in 2016-2017, where he scored 28.9 points per game. The main difference though is that Thomas had a bit more help. Al Horford, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder in that season would have all been the second best player on this current Charlotte Hornets team.
Looking to the future, the fate of Kemba Walker’s MVP candidacy is liking going to be determined by wins and losses for the Hornets. I’m not sure that Charlotte is going to be able to get enough wins for Walker to actually win the award. However, with the Hornets currently in a playoff spot, this needs to be discussed more. You never hear Kemba’s name in any basketball conversation. If you were to ask most NBA fans who the NBA’s leading scorer is right now, 80% of them would NOT say Kemba Walker.
Even if Walker doesn’t win MVP, Michael Jordan could have a tough time keeping him in Charlotte once 2019 free agency opens. The Knicks and Lakers will likely be players for Kemba Walker, so is he really going to want to stay in Charlotte? He’s said he wants to, but you never know. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Jordan is aggressive at the trade deadline attempting to get another all-star like Bradley Beal alongside Kemba Walker. This would potentially convince Walker to stay with Charlotte past this summer.
Whether or not Kemba Walker will continue his dominance for the rest of the season is unknown, but it should be a storyline to look for going forward.