Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte
A super efficient scorer at point guard, a playmaking guard/forward, and a rim protecting stretch 4. That’s a hell of a Big 3 if I’ve ever written one. In some ways it mirrors the Big 3 from the Miami Heat except Dwayne Wade is definitely a shooting guard and not a point guard.
Kemba looks to be a hypothetical addition as he would play alongside Luka and Porzingis adding more offense to a team in need of consistent nightly production. Given Kemba’s current situation in Charlotte, the Mavs would be a far more enticing team to play for as Michael Jordan continues to have the Charlotte Hornets in no man’s land as they continue to find help for Frank Kaminsky.
In addition, Kemba’s agent is also Dwight Powell’s agent. It seems Powell’s due for a new contract and the Mavs are playing nice with Mike George. In the sports world, when teams play nice to agents their clients are more likely to sign with that team.
So what does Kemba do well?… He is really good at scoring. As the primary scorer for the Hornets, he averages just under 26 points per game with a 43/36/84 shooting percentage line. (This is all from Sports Reference) As the primary ball handler on an offense that was in the bottom half of the league in total shooting percentage, three point shooting percentage, and assists per 100 possessions. They also had the most blocked field goal attempts per 100 possessions.
What do all these stats mean? The Charlotte offense does not utilize a lot of ball movement. If they had better shooters this wouldn’t be too much of an issue. However, they only have bottom-half-of-the-league shooters.
Considering what Kemba was working with as a supporting cast, the efficiency really isn’t all that bad. After all, his true shooting percentage was 51.1%. For reference, look at Luka’s numbers before and after the trade deadline and you’ll see a noticeable difference in efficiency.
While there is a drop in his efficiency from last season to this season, his points per game rebounds per game, and two point field goal percentage were career highs this season at age 29. He has roughly three seasons before he’s past his athletic prime giving the Mavs ample time to chase a championship.
Here’s what’s not good… Kemba is 29. If the Mavericks are to invest in a major acquisition like Kemba, he shouldn’t be significantly older than Porzingis. The Mavs would rather have a squad they can bring back everywhere than see major turnover from year to year with the hopes they can find stop gap max free agent players to make title runs. Team chemistry has never meant more for this organization.
As mentioned and probably well known at this point, Kemba is super ball dominant. In a “free flowing” offense that essentially runs through Luka, having two ball handlers isn’t going to work. (I know it’s contradicting to say free flowing while running through a player but that is the best description of this offense) Even though more time was probably needed, the two ball handler situation is what eventually got Dennis Smith Jr shipped to New York.
As a more natural and consistent scorer, the hope is Kemba would still fit better with Luka because he’s an All-Star. Even though the All-Star selection process makes no sense, there is one thing that stands out with Kemba’s game.
Kemba has absolutely deserved a spot on the All Star roster the last three seasons. He puts up points and is generally efficient in the process. However, it seems he’s most efficient when he makes more unassisted shots.
For his whole career, Kemba has been most efficient as a scorer by himself. When one develops his or her game in a certain fashion, the odds of them breaking that mold is very unlikely even if he or she gets the opportunity to play with some premium talent. Now this could resemble the Chris Paul-James Harden situation in Houston but Harden is the best scorer in the league and is also a better passer than Kemba.
This has the makings of a DSJ and Luka situation 2.0 and I don’t know if I really want to go down that road again? However, I don’t work for the Mavs front office. Having Kemba would be fun but I’m not sure how strong the experiment will finish…