It’s no wonder that future superstar and perennial NBA All-Star had only seventeen 10+ point games during his 1989-90 season. With his playing time significantly reduced because he was still adjusting to the NBA, Kemp received some important mentorship advice from Xavier McDaniel.
Kemp’s lone start of the rookie campaign came on January 20th, 1990, in Phoenix, when he scored 11 points and had 5 boards in a 19-point losing effort vs. the Suns. As the end of the season was closing, he played more minutes, which eventually led to better numbers. March 1990 was his most productive month of the season – he posted nine double-digit games averaging 18.2 minutes, 11.7 points, and 6.0 boards.
One of his most memorable games in that month came on March 25th, 1990, against the Los Angeles Lakers. Eventual Western Conference champions led by Magic easily cruised to a convincing 116-94 win in the Forum.
Despite losing the game, 20-year old rookie proved what he could do matched with much more experienced Lakers’ frontline, which included power forwards A.C. Green and Orlando Woolridge, along with centers Vlade Divac and Mychal Thompson.
Kemp was the first to come into the play from the Sonics’ bench. Playing fearlessly and without any respect for his older opponents, Kemp made an impression of a player came from the future!
Indeed he was – with his skills and power, he represented the future of NBA basketball!
With Sonics leading scorer Dale Ellis being limited to only 13 points, Kemp created havoc against the Lakers, especially in the paint. He led the team with 19 points, along with 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Needless to say, there was a great deal of excitement with all the spectacular dunks he showcased that game.
As a rookie, Kemp played only 13.8 minutes per game while averaging 6.5 points, 4.3 boards, and 0.9 blocks per game. The next season (1990-91), one of the brightest young stars in the NBA started 66 games for the Sonics while increasing his numbers to 15.0 points, 8.4 boards, and 1.5 blocks per game. The Sonics also drafted Gary Payton that season and the rest after that was history.
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is a BN contributor. The 1980s and 1990s basketball specialist is also proud to be the author of the TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ (‘Drazen – Godine Zmaja’) which reveals the yet untold details from the life and career of the legendary NBA shooting guard Drazen Petrovic.