Kemba Walker’s struggles continue, and coach Tom Thibodeau has decided to keep his former All-Star point guard out of the rotation. Can Kemba crack the rotation again, or is this the start of his decline as a player?
Kemba’s struggles continue this season
Boston Celtics cut ties with Kemba last season due to his shooting struggles, and it seems he could not shake it off with his new team. The Knicks hoped that Walker would be the final piece of the championship puzzle for New York, a team that made giant strides last year, but it’s clear now that he has not lived up to his potential.
After struggling in his first few games since returning from a knee injury last season, the 4-time All-Star admitted that the shooting slump could be more mental, as reported by Matthew Geagan from CBS Boston:
“It’s more mental than anything, I think. Tonight, I got frustrated at myself and it kind of put myself in a bad place. I’m not even a player like that to really get frustrated. I’m more smiling and I wasn’t that tonight. I got into my own head and, mentally, I hurt myself. I can’t do that for this team.”
Kemba Walker, CBS Boston
When an explosive player like Walker suffered a serious injury, it took a toll psychologically. He’s now second-guessing every move, and without decent outside shooting - he’s a career 36.1 percent shooter beyond the arc - Walker had to shoot his way out of his slump. The inefficiency hurts New York, and it prompted Thibodeau to make the challenging but necessary changes.
Thibodeau removes Walker from Knicks rotation
Tom Thibodeau decided to take Kemba out of the Knicks rotation, which is more bad news for the 11-year veteran. This means the coach is not trusting Kemba to impact what’s happening on the floor, as a starter or bench player, that can help the team win. If Walker’s problem is mental, this news would only add more burden to his struggles.
Walker has averaged 11.7 points and 3.6 assists in 24.5 minutes on the floor this season, the lowest numbers in his career. With him out of the rotation, Derrick Rose and Alec Burks will be in charge of running the point for New York. At 11-9, the team is sitting at the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference standings. They can still turn things around, and it could start with removing Kemba from the rotation. It’s now up to Walker to use the time to improve on his health and maybe consult experts regarding his approach to the game.
Sometimes, a player may struggle to realize that he would never return to his old self before all the injuries. Kemba Walker is still a decent player, but he should start improving his outside shooting and defense if he wants to get into rotation once again.