Our final season recap ends with none other than Charlotte Hornets All-Star, Kemba Walker. There isn’t much more that one person could have done for their team this season than what Walker did for his Hornets. With all of the speculation surrounding his impending free agency decision, he never faltered and fought for this squad to earn a playoff spot up until the final minutes of the last game of the season. Unfortunately, his efforts came up just short as the Hornets would miss the playoffs yet again, leaving questions about Walker’s future up in the air.
As followers of this team we got what we just about expected from Walker this season. He exceeded the expectations of many but I think its safe to say that most of us knew he was this good all along. Walker leaped out at the start of this season, with dominant performance after dominate performance, which had people whispering that he should be in discussion for most valuable player.
Those whispers settled pretty quickly as the season went on, but Walkers play never took a noticeable dip as he continued to battle every single night. Literally. He didn’t miss a single game this season, playing and starting in all 82. The first time he’s done that since the 2012-13 season. With the amount of wear and tear on his body –being 8th in the league in usage percentage with a minimum of 60 games played– rarely did we see Walker slow down.
Walker’s play this season earned him not only a starting spot on an All-Star team but 3rd Team All-NBA honors. The first time he’s made an All-NBA team in his career. This of course, is currently a little bitter sweet for some fans as this means Walker is now eligible for the super max contract that can see him earn a quite the pretty penny should he stay in Charlotte. He deserves every dime for what he’s done for this team, but the question is, is if Charlotte can truly afford him in a manner in which it makes sense for the state of the franchise.
Oh no question, Charlotte’s definitely my first priority. That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. When I go on my Instagram, I see, ‘Kemba leave! Kemba get out of Charlotte!’ People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.Kemba Walker to The Athletic’s Jared Weiss
There’s no doubt what Walker means to Charlotte. It’s not often that you get a player who averages 25.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists a game and to see him walk away in free agency would truly be heartbreaking, but it may be something we have to come to terms with. Walker’s been here through the all the down times, and honestly, it’s never truly gone up. All it takes is looking at one picture of Walker in a Bobcats jersey to remember just how dark things have been for this franchise.
I’m not going to be the one to tell him to leave, but I can confidently say that he deserves far better than what we’ve given him so far into his career. It’s also safe to say that we aren’t in any position to be convinced that we can bring in assets that would persuade him that we’re headed in the right direction. The assets that we currently have aren’t too enticing for other teams, (recall back to when we failed to make a trade for Marc Gasol or Harrison Barnes at the deadline) I wouldn’t expect much to change in the next couple of weeks.
All we can do at this point is thank Walker for all that he’s done for this franchise, he’s basically the record holder for every important Hornets record and no matter what Klay Thompson says, Walker was more than deserving of making an All-NBA team, the first Hornets player in God knows how long?
If Walker is too leave this offseason, there shouldn’t be videos of fans burning his jerseys, but nothing but praise for what he’s done for the franchise. We may not have (nor deserve) the recognition we want, but we certainly aren’t the laughing stock we once were when Walker joined the team. I’ll miss watching him cross defenders into another realm, and knocking down jumper after jumper as he single handedly drags the Hornets back into games. Watching him grow into one of the deadliest three point shooters in the league has been nothing but a joy. It’s almost gotten to the point where I’m more shocked to see him miss a three coming off a screen than I am to see him knock those down at high rates. I just wish we were able to give him consistent seasons in the playoffs so the world could see what he can really do.
At the end of the day, no one besides Kemba knows what he’s going to do, although he’s told us plenty of times how much he loves the city, and playing here is his preferred option, but its fun to speculate. Whether he’s back or not, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you, Kemba.
Final Grade: A+++