The summer of 2015 will be remembered as an important off-season in regards to Kemba Walker's improvement. With the help of Charlotte Hornets' shooting coach Bruce Kreutzer, the New York point guard adjusted certain components of his jumpshot in order to develop into a better shooter.
Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney wrote in detail about the changes Walker made. For example, Kemba revised his shooting form by bringing the ball up more to the right side of his body before letting it fly. In doing so the point guard isn't putting the ball in front of his face anymore and now has a quicker release. It resulted in a 37.1 percent year from the 3-point line for the fifth year pro. Before 2015-16 Walker hadn't shot better than 33.3 percent from downtown for a full season.
When that's what your 3-point shooting percentage used to be as a point guard, there are certain ways of defensive treatment you have to discourage. For Walker that meant burning anyone who dared going under a pick-and-roll screen when guarding him.
Defenses will do less and less of this in the pick-and-roll should Walker continue his hot shooting in 2016-17. Opposing teams will have to have guards religiously going over the screen and chasing Kemba off the 3-point line. That in turn will award Walker with more open driving lanes to the basket.
It not only helps Kemba himself as a player, but it also helps the team on the whole. Suddenly his match-up has to be more concerned about every play which involves Walker, whether it's him handling the ball or being involved in screens off the ball. Any extra attention given to him as a 3-point threat can free up other teammates.
Walker proved himself as a legitimate 3-pointer hazard for defenses by making the fourth most pull-up 3-pointers in the league, per SportVU player tracking data. Even though his shooting percentage (32.2 percent) puts him right in the middle among players with at least 100 pull-up three attempts for the year (Walker finished 21st out of 41), he made up for it with the amount of shots he took. Only Stephen Curry, James Harden and Damian Lillard were more ballsy about pull-up threes and made more for the season.
Moreover, it's a notable improvement from the 2014-15 season when Walker was the third worst regular pull-up shooter with only 32 makes on 125 3-point attempts (25.6 percent).
32.2 percent for the season might not sound that good but what needs to be acknowledged is the difficulty of such shopts. Curry was the only player to surpass the 40 percent mark for the season by nailing an inhuman 42.8 percent of his pull-up three attempts. Meanwhile, 50 players shot better than 40 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, led by Charlotte's own Troy Daniels at 53 percent (Walker himself is placed 19th).
All in all, Kemba Walker has made great and necessary strides as a player and it resulted in a standout season. Here's to him having an even better year next season.
For what it's worth, you know that he'll work as hell during the off-season to make it a reality.