Kemba Walker: Why He Has Been the NBA’s Most Improved Player


Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats shoots over Detroit Pistons defender Rodney Stuckey (3) during a Feb. 29, 2012, game at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich. Walker has done very well recently. (Photo by Craig Downing/

Kemba Walker is a good player on a horrible Charlotte Bobcats team.

Even though the Bobcats have some talent and have improved upon a historically bad 2011-12 campaign, they are easily the worst team in the NBA. They are 41 games behind the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference and they own a mind-boggling 17-56 record. During the 2011-12 season, the Bobcats were 7-59 and they haven’t been much better this year. In its last 61 games, Charlotte is 10-51.

When you hear these stats, you might want to say that the Bobcats have no good players, or at least no noteworthy players. However, that isn’t the case at all.

Walker, the point guard for the Bobcats, has averaged 17.5 points per game (PPG) and 5.6 assists per game (APG) while taking major strides towards stardom. Walker’s rookie stats weren’t bad by any means, as he still managed a respectable 14.9 PPG and 5 APG. However, his stats have climbed this year and so has his production.

Walker’s player efficiency rating (PER) is 18.77, which is well above the league average of 15. In the 2011-12 season, Walker’s PER was less than the league average at 14.98, which means he has made major strides. His estimated wins added (EWA) during the 2011-12 season was 3.5, which isn’t good at all considering that LeBron James of the Miami Heat has an EWA of 28.1.

However, this season, Walker has been much better.

His EWA this year is 9.7, which ranks seventh among point guards. His PER ranks ninth among point guards, as he’s done well as a talented, complete player. Walker has averaged 2.01 steals per game this year, which ranks third in the NBA. He has done well in all aspects in the game and he has been the most improved player this year.

James Harden of the Houston Rockets has also taken major strides since being traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he hasn’t been flawless at all. Harden is averaging 3.7 turnovers per game, which is too many even for a primary ball-handler. Out of 94 qualified players, Harden is somehow tied for 92nd, meaning only one player has averaged more turnovers per game than Harden.

Harden has a 1.6 assists-to-turnovers ratio, which isn’t great for a guard. Walker’s ratio is 2.43, which is far better than Harden’s ratio. While Harden isn’t a point guard, he has the ball a lot and has some players to pass to. Chandler Parsons averages more than 15 PPG, and there are five Rockets (other than Harden) who average double-digit points. So, Harden has a lot of help on his team.

And Walker? He has eight players averaging less than 5 PPG and no one with a shooting percentage higher than 50 percent. Oh, and only one Bobcat shoots better than 45 percent.

The Bobcats aren’t a good team at all, but Walker has done very well this year and shown that he can lead the Bobcats. In 15 of Charlotte’s 17 wins, Walker has scored 14 or more points and in 14 of those wins, Walker has scored 17 or more.

In his rookie season, Walker just wasn’t able to do that.

Walker had 22 games with single-digit points, or single-digit points in one-thirds of his games (the NBA lockout shortened the season to 66 games). Walker never had more than 23 points, while he dropped 34 points on the New York Knicks on Wednesday, March 27.

Oh, and in his last 15 games, Walker has scored in double digits.

The Bobcat point guard has grown remarkably and is developing into one of the best point guards in the NBA. He’s going to grow more and could definitely become a star, and if he keeps improving at this rate, he will be a star. Walker had a decent rookie season, but he has been much more efficient this year while posting better numbers. The Bobcats are improving as well and that’s largely because of the strides taken by their point guard.

And, if Walker keeps playing well and getting better, he could even help take the Bobcats back into contention.