Now that it’s the offseason, and we're all looking for things to do away from spending our nights watching basketball, I figured that I'd take an analytical look at some of the key returning players of the Bobcats roster starting with the point guard Kemba Walker. (With these articles, feedback would be great. Things you like, things you'd like to find out more about, anything would be great, everyone at this site loves to talk Bobcats!)
Weight: 184 lbs
Years Pro: 2
2012-13 Per Game Stats: 17.7 points, 5.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2.4 turnovers
As we all know, Walker was the "star player" on our Bobcats. Walker’s raw stats of 18 points and 6 assists look great on the surface, but his 42% shooting percentage isn't what you look for in an elite point guard. Let’s break it down a little bit.
As you can see, Walker is an elite finisher at the rim, as he shoots 53% on the right side, and 48% on the left for combined 50.5% in the painted area. For somebody that small, and with the frequency he takes shots in the area, he shoots a very high percentage and can use his body control as a major weapon. After watching many games this season, it's clear that most of these looks come off of the pick and roll as Walker is the primary ball handler on these plays, and can use his quickness to get into the paint and finish over the trees. Moving back a few feet into the midrange areas, Walker shoots an average of 42.2% on those shots, and if you watch a lot of Bobcats basketball, you know that it's one of Walkers most favorite shots. He thrives from the free throw line area where he shoots almost 47%, his best percentage outside of the painted area. Walker is a nice midrange shooter from every area except the right corner where he shoots a paltry 36%. Since the Bobcats know that Walker loves these shots, they do a good job of getting him open looks in that area. For example, the Bobcats use a few sets where Walker is off the ball, and somebody sets a pin down screen on his man which he comes off wide open to shoot the midrange jumper. This may seem like a win for the Bobcats, but opposing defenses try to force the Bobcats into shooting those midrange jumpers which are known as the most inefficient shots in the game of basketball. Finally, Walker shoots 32.3% from beyond the arc. He's better shooting from the right wing area where he shoots 36.5%, but when he moves to the top of the key and to the left wing, his percentages crumble to a way below average 28.2 and 29.9% respectively. As you can see, Kemba is about an average scorer from all over the floor, but the addition of Al Jefferson will definitely create more open looks for him off the pick and roll, and on isolations, because the defense will be less willing to give help with a big man when Walker penetrates into the lane.
Even though Walkers shooting percentages may be pretty average this year, they made a huge jump from his rookie year in 2011-2012. During his rookie year, Walker shot an ice cold 36% from the floor, which is okay for someone trying to adjust to the league, but it's still pretty bad for his low volume of attempts. Many times during his rookie year did we see Walker shoot contested midrange jump shots, and those shots turned into an ugly 34.8% from the midrange area...yikes. Also, there were many times where Walker would crash into the paint and look to draw contact, but he rarely got the calls. This reckless abandon and lack of understanding on how to avoid shot blockers in the paint led to a 43.1% in the paint. This may be passable for other areas in the court, but in the paint where you're supposed to be getting your best looks? Absolutely not, that was definitely something he knew he had to work on and he did. During his rookie year, Walker took only 35.1% of his total shots inside the paint, while talking 36.9% in the midrange (a less efficient area). However, this past season, he changed his offensive approach and ended the season taking 44.7% of his shots in the paint, and only 28.5% in the midrange, while increasing his percentages in both areas. This change, and increase in efficiency were the biggest reasons Walker became the unquestioned star player on the Cats this past season.
Since Walker was our star player last year, we looked for him to create offense down the stretch of games during crunch time. However, stats say that we may need to find another option down the stretch of close games. During the 4th quarter, when the game is within 6 points either way, Walkers shooting percentages crumble. His percentage near the basket drops from 53% on average to 36.5%. That's a 16.5 point difference. It doesn't only decrease in the paint. On midrange shots Walker shoots40% normally which is respectable, but during clutch situations in the 4th quarter, his midrange percentage drops to a Tyrus Thomas like 29.2%. Of course the lower number of attempts can lead to a slight drop off in percentage, but that big of a jump is alarming. For example, Chris Paul, who's normally referred to as the best point guard in the game, his midrange and paint shooting percentages actually increase when the score is within 6 points in the 4th quarter. Obviously it's unfair to compare Walker to Paul, but Walker should be striving to be seen as the best PG in the game, and he's going to need to increase all of his percentages not only in crunch time, but during the whole game to become a more efficient scorer, and an absolute stud in the league. With the new coaching staff, more weapons around him, and another off-season under his belt, Walker is a prime candidate to make an even bigger big breakthrough this year and take a leap into all-star consideration.