Why Kemba Walker is the 33rd best player in the NBA

Is Kemba Walker among the top 35 players in the NBA? Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the offseason, we’ll be counting down the Top 50 players in the NBA from 50 to 1. Who will just miss the cut? Which names do you expect to see? Regardless, you’ll be able to find them all right here.

Why He’s Great: Guys … I think Kemba Walker can shoot now. That’s a big deal. After making below 32 percent from three-point range during his first four seasons, Kemba made 37 percent in Year 5. The natural reaction to that was to assume it was an aberration. It takes 750 three-point attempts for a sample to be reliable, so it was conceivable that the 490 he took just featured a random bit of luck. He should have regressed to the mean last season. But he made almost 40 percent of his three-pointers on over 600 attempts.

If this is the new normal, we have to completely reconsider our opinions on Kemba Walker. If he is going to score 23 efficient points per game with real three-point range, even doing nothing else (which he really doesn’t) he’s an automatic All-Star in the East.

Before this season, Kyrie Irving had made it to the All-Star Game three times. He never averaged Walker’s 23.2 points, he topped his 52.7 effective field goal percentage only once, and um, this includes two seasons with LeBron. Irving was 28th last year, and Kemba at this point is better than Kyrie was a year ago. A crowded field is the only thing keeping Walker out of the top 30 this time around.

Why He’s Below No. 32 (Kevin Love): Because Kemba doesn’t do much beyond scoring, and neither does Kevin Love. So it really becomes a question of which kind of scorer you’d rather have.

A three-point shooting big man is more valuable than a three-point shooting guard on scarcity alone. It’s easier to find a point guard that plays like Kemba Walker than a big who plays like Kevin Love. Walker is a great driver, but Love can score from the low post. Once again, scarcity matters. Walker also plays in an offense built around him, while Love settles for LeBron’s scraps. If their roles were reversed, there’s a chance Kevin Love is 20 spots higher on this list and Walker is 20 spots lower.

And if nothing else, Kevin Love rebounds. That’s a valuable skill. He offers something besides scoring. Kemba can run an offense, but he’s not a prototypical point guard. He has blossomed playing next to Nic Batum, a wing who does a lot of playmaking for his teammates. It has allowed Kemba to be the scorer he was always meant to be, but it hurts him in evaluations of his overall contributions. Love is a bit better than Kemba at the one thing they both do. And, his game has a bit more variety.

Yardbarker: NBA

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