After three days of voting, At The Hive's readers have selected Kemba Walker as the team's third-most valuable asset this season. Walker received 44 percent of the votes (58 votes total), which was only eight more votes than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist received.
Once many Hornets fans' darling player, Walker has been the subject of immense criticism this season. While he's undoubtedly grown as a player in his three years in the league, his development has slowed considerably and some wonder if he's a finished product this early in his career. Now in his fourth NBA season, Walker received a four-year, $48 million extension from the Hornets, and this only added to the controversy surrounding him.
Is he worth that type of money? It depends how you look at it.
Walker is still just 24 years old, and up until last season was the unequivocal leader of the Hornets. He has been the heart and soul of the Horncats since he was drafted in 2011, and due to a lack of talent on the Bobcats in his first two seasons, he was able to put up good albeit inefficient numbers. Last year, the team made it to the NBA playoffs, in part due to Walker's impressive — though still inefficient on the whole — play (Al Jefferson, Steve Clifford, and Josh McRoberts also played a large role in the Bobcats' playoff berth).
How much of Walker's poor shooting percentages are truly a result of questionable shot selection and average shooting touch is up for debate. He's never been surrounded with good shooters, and has been tasked with bailing the team out late in the clock for many years now, although Jefferson has helped on that front recently. It's difficult to say definitively if Walker would continue to shoot under 40 percent if he played for another team, and that's why the debate surrounding Walker is difficult to sift through.
This season, Walker has been solid but not great. He's shooting 37.8 percent from the field in 16 games, the second lowest mark of his career. He's taking slightly fewer shots overall, however, although he's averaging the same number of 3-point attempts per game as last season. This is one reason Walker's shooting numbers seem bad. A larger percentage of his shots are from behind the arc this season, and he's having a down year shooting from deep.
His defense has also taken a step back this season. He's getting caught on more screens this season and failing to rotate quickly enough when opposing teams shift the defense.
Is Walker the team's point guard for the foreseeable future? Is he worth that $48 million deal? Time will tell.
I'd still love to see what he's capable of when surrounded by good shooters.