By Sean Phaler
August 28, 2013
SENSATIONAL SOPHOMORE SEASON
After a stellar rookie campaign, Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker had much to prove in his sophomore season with the Cats. Coming into the start of the season, Walker had the starting point guard spot locked down and was a focal point on offense. Being the only player to start and play in every single game in 2012-13, Walker showed he was more than capable of holding his own in this league. Walker averaged a team-high 17.7 points, 5.4 assists and 1.9 steals in his sophomore season with the Cats. The time is now in Charlotte and Kemba Walker is at the helm leading the Cats.
“It’s kind of hard to take it all in right now, as it being my team,” Walker said after at the end of the season. “It’s kind of a dream come true. I didn’t think it would be in my second year. I’m excited and I am willing to lead this team and I hope I am here for a long time and I hope we can be really good in the future,” said Walker after the 2012-13 season.
A RISING STAR
Walker was selected to play in the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on February 15, 2013 during NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston. Along with teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist they were both drafted to play for Team Shaq and took part in the All-Star Weekend festivities including an open practice, an NBA Cares community event, a media circuit and the Rising Stars Game. Walker scored eight points and led Team Shaq with eight assists, while Kidd-Gilchrist added eight points and four boards in their 163-135 loss to Team Chuck on February 15 in Houston.
“I am having a lot of fun, these guys are really cool down to earth guys, I am excited to be around them,” said Walker. “We tried to go out there and have fun, enjoy ourselves, represent our team I thought we did a good job out there today.”
2013 Rising Stars Central
Walker, Kidd-Gilchrist to Play in Rising Stars Challenge
During the season Walker was tagged as a co-captain to lead this young Bobcats franchise. In only his second season in the league, some might have been pegged it as too early for him to be called a captain, but Walker took it in stride and proved on a nightly basis why he was chosen to lead this team. Walker proved with his actions both on and off the court why he deserved to be captain and has played in every game since he has put on a Bobcats uniform.
On any given night Walker has to be respected and was able to show with his hard work on the court that he was a leader for this team. One big sign of being a leader is mental toughness. Kemba played in all 82 games, and in 27 of those games he did not miss a single free throw he attempted. Going to the line and converting free throws can be a huge advantage for a team late in the game. Look for Walker to continue his success in certain categories. The difference from his rookie year to sophomore year in field goal percentage (.366 to .423) is only another example of this young talent rising.
Kemba Walker Career Stats
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS TICKETS
Walker was invited to attend the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp held on July 22-25 in Las Vegas, Nevada, along with 28 other NBA stars including his teammate Kidd-Gilchrist.
“This is an exciting group of versatile and very talented players,” said Mike Krzyzewski, the USA head mentor who has led U.S. teams to gold at back-to-back Olympics. “This group has a really good blend of experience, both with USA Basketball and in the NBA. The mini-camp will feature a lot of younger players who are emerging in the NBA and it will give us our first opportunity to see them at this elite level. I’m really anxious to get to work with them.”
The invited players started in Las Vegas on July 21, and went through daily training sessions July 22-24 and before closing out the mini-camp with the 2013 USA Basketball Showcase, a blue-white intra-squad game on July 25. Walker ended with up five assists, three steals and two points for the Blue team in a 128-106 loss to the white team.
2013 Team USA Camp Gallery
Kemba Walker to Attend 2013 Team USA Mini-Camp
There was a reason why Kemba Walker was targeted in the 2011 draft by the Bobcats. He had his doubters saying that he was too small and not a good enough point guard. The one major quality Walker does have is a winner’s mentality and the ability to hit clutch shots. Walker introduced himself to the basketball world after leading UCONN to a 2011 NCAA Championship by hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. This was more than evident on November 14, 2012 in Minnesota when Walker took control with 0.7 seconds remaining, hitting a stepback jumper over Alexey Sheved to give the Cats their third straight win in an 89-87 victory.
Video: Walker’s Winner
With an average of 17.7 points, Walker was the second-leading scorer among 2012-13 sophomores behind Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving (22.5) and ahead of Golden State’s Klay Thompson (16.6), Houston’s Chandler Parsons (15.5), Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas (13.9) and Detroit’s Brandon Knight (13.3). In the assist category Walker ranked third (5.4) behind Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio (7.3) and Irving (5.9). Put his numbers up against the rest of the NBA and Walker ranked 21st in scoring (17.7), 25th in assists (5.4) and 5th in steals (1.95). Walker continues to move his way up as one of the stars of the NBA – going in to his third season, this could be his most exciting yet.
Kemba Walker Career Stats
Walker could benefit the most from the Cats offseason acquisitions. With the presence of Al Jefferson in the middle, it allows Walker to drive and pitch to him once the defense shifts over to help. Defenders might also be less likely to jump over and help knowing that Jefferson is on the other side waiting for Walker to dish him the ball if they over-help. Walker now has a legitimate center to work with and things will only get better for Walker’s productivity. The addition of Cody Zeller also gives Walker another high post presence to work with from pick-and-rolls to pick-and-pops. Having a high basketball IQ player like Zeller in the high post only helps Walker’s case in being able to play off each other at the top of the key.
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