What a difference a year makes for Kemba Walker.
Let’s rewind the tape on Walker’s career to April, 2011. He had just led UConn to the most improbable of national championships. His jersey, the No. 15, was placed on the “Huskies of Honor” wall before he even left school. In June, Walker was selected No. 9 overall by the Charlotte Bobcats, a moment that elicited tears as he walked across the stage and shook hands with NBA commissioner David Stern.
No one would blame him if he’s still crying.
The Charlotte Bobcats finished the regular season with an embarrassing 20-point loss to the undermanned Knicks (Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler did not play) and the worst winning percentage in NBA history. Simply put, the Bobcats, at 7-59, are the most inept NBA team that has ever been assembled.
Walker was by no means a star — nobody was in Charlotte — but his rookie season wasn’t a total disappointment, either. He appeared in all 66 games, ranked fifth among all rookies in scoring (12.1 points per game), third in assists (4.4) and committed only 1.8 turnovers per game, far less than Ricky Rubio (3.2), Kyrie Irving (3.1) and Brandon Knight (2.6). Walker’s biggest flaw: He shot just 36 percent from the field, among the worst in the league.
All in all, though, it wasn’t a bad rookie year. If the Bobcats had any bright spots, Walker was one of them. He figures to be part of the long-term for a team that desperately needs an overhaul (and Kentucky big man Anthony Davis).