Kemba Walker could be the step in the right direction the Boston Celtics desperately need.
The Boston Celtics’ off season has been nothing short of a disaster thus far – Kyrie Irving has already packed his bags for Brooklyn, Anthony Davis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Al Horford shocked the Celtics’ fan base by looking for a new team.
Unfortunately, despite all of their assets, having two All-Star players leave for nothing certainly ends any conversations about Danny Ainge orchestrating the best rebuild in the history of the NBA.
The only way the Boston Celtics front office could have made things worse is by overreacting and messing up their cap situation for the future in some effort to stop the bleeding. That’s not what signing Kemba Walker is.
Everyone knew the Celtics were in for a rough off season but no one saw these changes coming; Al Horford wasn’t supposed to go anywhere and it looked like the Celtics were ready to move forward with Terry Rozier as their starting point guard. There was no realistic scenario where Boston had enough cap space nor the allure to pry Kemba Walker away from the Charlotte Hornets, but an Al Horford departure and a Hornets low ball offer later and Adrian Wojnerowski is saying “Barring an unforeseen change, Kemba Walker is going to leave Charlotte. He’s going to head to Boston” live on Sports Center.
The last time the Boston Celtics acquired an All-NBA point guard things could not have gone worse but Kemba Walker is much better for the Boston Celtics than Kyrie Irving ever was.
If the Boston Celtics do end up signing Kemba Walker there will be a nauseating amount of Kemba-Kyrie comparisons, but luckily for Celtics fans, Kemba is much closer to Isaiah Thomas than Kyrie Irving, both on and off the court.
Kyrie’s Offensive impact
There is no denying Kyrie Irving’s skill, however, his play style is horizontal when he weaves his way to the rim. Kyrie uses his ball handling skills to embarrass defenders, and more often than not he gets to the basket but it leads to an isolation play style for the entire team.
This season the Boston Celtics were 8th in the entire NBA in isolation frequency and 27th in points per possession when doing so per NBA Stats.
Kyrie was less direct with his attacks which not only closes a lot of cutting lanes for his teammates because defenses do not collapse all at once but is also much harder for people like Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris, Gordon Hayward, and Jayson Tatum to read and react to what he’s doing.
Kyrie’s play style, while mesmerizing, produced a net negative for the Boston Celtics. Because Boston’s wing players couldn’t start their movements until later in the possession, defenders could stay on them longer before they pursue Irving making passing lanes for kick out threes much more difficult.
Kyrie Irving forces his teammates to be catch and shoot players when in reality, they are so much more than that. The Celtics’ wings are great play makers and slashers to the basket and the system under Kyrie Irving did not allow them the space nor time on the shot clock to be at their best.
I don’t think there is anyone out there who genuinely believes Kemba Walker is a better player than Kyrie Irving, but Walker will bring the Boston Celtics to heights Kyrie was never able to. Kemba Walker’s fit within Brad Stevens’ system is very similar to that of Isaiah Thomas.
Kemba is a downhill score first point guard. This kind of play-style forces teammates to be more active and puts them in position to read and attack defenses in a way that better suits their skill sets instead of bringing the whole team down by forcing them to be one dimensional athletes.
Kemba is a formidable passer and will have no problem making the passes necessary for kick out threes but his biggest addition on the court is putting defenders on their heels and forcing others to collapse, this creates open space for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum so they should have no problem bouncing back from their down years.
In Kyrie’s lone full season leading the Boston Celtics, total passes per game were down by about 30 when compared to when Boston had a downhill, attack early point guard in Isaiah Thomas. With Walker on the team, both morale and performance will skyrocket.
Kyrie vs Kemba Leadership Style
Throughout Kyrie’s time with the Boston Celtics his leadership style can best be described as awkward and forced. It seemed like he spent most of his time trying to prove to the media that he is this version of a perfect leader that he made up in his mind instead of doing what was actually best for the team.
Being a leader doesn’t come naturally to him, which is fine if he was ever able to learn what it takes to become one but he never did, it was always unnatural and disingenuous but because he’s such a skilled player the Celtics’ fan base tried their best to look past it. But at the end of the day Kyrie is not the type of player Boston can fall in love with and it led to the inevitable ugly divorce that will be completed on Sunday night.
Kemba on the other hand hasn’t made an enemy in his entire career. He is a hard working consistent guy who will lead by example and get along with his teammates in the process. Walker looks like someone Boston will love right off the bat and can finally make Celtics basketball fun again.