Recap of Kemba Walker’s Week: Can he Continue His Strong Play?
For most of this season, the New York Knicks have been a disappointment. With high expectations coming off of last season, Tom Thibodeau’s team has not been able to find a rhythm with one another. While the Knicks continue to find their identity, the biggest news as of the recent week has been Kemba Walker’s reemergence in the starting lineup. Walker was sidelined by coach Thibodeau due to poor performances earlier in the season.
Coming into this season, Walker was expected to be a huge contributor to New York. Playing alongside stars in Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and others, Walker’s scoring was expected to take pressure off the two stars to be able to shift the defense. After a decent start in October, Walker averaged 10 points per game on 39 percent from the field and 29 percent from the three-point range. With him being a non-factor in the Knicks rotation, Coach Thibs abruptly pulled the plug on Walker, forcing him to be removed from the starting lineup.
Kemba Walker: How it’s Been Going
Kemba Walker: His Recent History
It’s been a struggle for Walker to find his footing over the past few years. Last season in Boston, he was dealing with a left knee injury. An injury that forced him to miss the start of the year. As Walker would later make his return, his presence in the rotation did not benefit the Celtics. Walker averaged 19.3 points on 42 percent shooting a season ago with Boston. But with his inability to stay healthy, his pairing alongside stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown turned out to not be a good fit. With that being said, Walker was traded from the Celtics to the Oklahoma City Thunder during the offseason and was later bought out to sign with the Knicks.
The optimism for Walker was there in the beginning. He was returning to his home state and had the opportunity to compete with one of the famous franchises in the NBA. Walker came out of the gates strong with an average of 15 points through his first seven games. Afterward, things became a nightmare on the floor for the next few weeks. The Knicks began to struggle tremendously and it was time to make a few changes. Knicks guard Alec Burks would take Walker’s position as the starting point guard forcing him to be inactive.
Walker’s Recent Hot Streak
Certainly, as an all-star, losing a starting spot didn’t sit right with Walker. He understood that he could bring more to the table. With that being said, the situation fueled him to become more assertive on the floor. After being sidelined for 10 games, Walker made his return to the starting lineup on December 18th against the Celtics, where he scored 29 points and had six rebounds.
The momentum continued for Walker. He was still motivated for more success. In the Knicks’ matchup against the Washington Wizards last week, he did a phenomenal job of carrying the offense. Many people will look at Walker lighting up the floor for 44 points. But it was also his decision-making and elite passing that kept the Knicks in the contest. Walker’s near triple-double performance wasn’t enough as the Knicks suffered through another loss. But it was a great showing that their veteran point guard still has a lot left in his game.
As Walker won player of the week, the challenge now is to continue the momentum. The Knicks understood that Walker’s ability to light up the floor can take their team to further destinations. While Julius Randle continues to be the number one option on offense, Walker can quickly emerge himself as a number two offensive threat, which was what the team expected him to be. Can Walker become an all-star caliber once again? Maybe not. But it will be great for him to continue his great play on a consistent effort through the rest of the season.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images