NBA Draft Ready: Kemba Walker Caps Run of a Lifetime
It probably wasn’t Kemba Walker’s best college basketball game. Hell, it wasn’t even close. His 16 points on 5 of 19 shooting in last night’s NCAA Basketball National Championship Game was far from some of the spectacular shooting days he put together during this 11-game run that began back in mid-March. Even in inefficiency, Walker was still the man. Walker helped manage the offense from the point, spearheaded an aggressive perimeter defense and at the meager height of 6-1, he grabbed 9 rebounds in a game where defense and rebounding was essential.
That kind of effort is why it was only befitting that Walker and his Connecticut Huskies cut down the nets after being Butler 53-41. Walker’s shooting excellence, energy and all-around effort in the last 11 games of the season are maybe something we haven’t seen before in college basketball.
Granted, I’m a little younger than most seasoned writers out there, but it’s hard for me to imagine that in 11-straight elimination games, any other player in the basketball history has been as clutch and on-point as Kemba Walker has. From last-minute shots, to straight up buzzer beaters, Walker has done it all, and he did it all from the perimeter, something which, as we saw last night, is always a part of one’s game that a basketball player can rely on.
But I suppose when your shot is as sweet as Walker’s, hot streaks aren’t hard to come by. While Walkers 0-4 3-point shooting in the nation’s biggest game didn’t impress anybody watching him for the first time last night, let it be known that Walker is still a baler. The man by no means is a 3-point assassin, as his 3-point percentage for the season was a paltry 33%. However, when it comes to putting points up on the board, Walker comparisons are better suited for Allen Iverson than they are Ray Allen.
At the end of each game, Walker isn’t always going to have the sexiest shooting percentages. In fact, his 0 of 4 from three-point land last night was quite comparable to his 1 of 5 against Kentucky, his 1 of 7 against Arizona and his 0 of 3 against Louisville in the Big East Championship Game. His field goal percentage won’t be all that impressive either, as he shoots a mundane 42% from the field for his career.
But in the game of basketball, where putting the ball in the whole is the ultimate goal, prolificacy is the next best thing after efficiency—and boy is Kemba prolific! All you have to do is look at the point totals to see that. His last 11 point totals, mind you that these were produced in one-and-done games, reads something like 16, 18, 20, 36, 33, 18, 19, 33, 24, 28 and 26. And for good measure, his point total twelve games ago was 36 against top-ranked Notre Dame.
Of course, at 6-1 and lacking the shooting expertise and pure athleticism that most NBA scouts would like to see from someone that size, Kemba Walker will get labeled a scrap-player, one destined to fight his way off the bench in the NBA and prove that he can contribute. Sure, he’ll get drafted early in the 2011 NBA Draft because his stock could be no higher. But without the pure athleticism of say an Allen Iverson or Nate Robinson, Walker will still have to prove himself at the next level.
But being a player from the Bronx, who had to fight his way into Jim Calhoun’s good graces, I don’t doubt that Walker will find a way to show his next coach exactly what it is that he can do on the basketball court. CBS color analyst Clark Kellogg says this all the time: “If you have game, it will travel.” Walker definitely has game, and it will travel to the NBA. Doubt that if you may, but what you can’t doubt is the championship-like prolificacy that Walker displayed in his last 11 games. And if you need any kind of reminder, just watch the video of him cutting down those championship nets as the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
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