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ATH Mailbag: Who’s untouchable?

Is Kemba Walker really untouchable?

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

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@DerrickLofton73 asks,

To start, I don’t really think Kemba Walker is going to be ‘untouchable’ the whole season. It may appear that way now, but things can change instantly in basketball. Walker is currently averaging 31 points, three rebounds, and five assists per game. Those are All-Star caliber numbers, and Charlotte certainly won’t move him for nothing.

If the Hornets perform miserably over the course of the next month, I wouldn’t put a Walker trade out of the picture. That said, there are only two other players that should be considered ‘untouchable’.

One is Malik Monk, who has taken a step up in play from last year. He is averaging 13 points, two rebounds, and two assists in 26 minutes per game. Monk, just 20 years old, is full of potential and could be a spectacular player in the future.

The other is Miles Bridges, who was taken with the 12th overall pick in June’s NBA Draft. Bridges is still a rookie, and the organization seems to have total confidence in him. Bridges hasn’t been getting much regular season playing time, but it does seem he is athletic and talented enough to be an above average NBA player in the somewhat near future.

@Matt_Alquiza8 asks,

Frank Kaminsky has seemingly fallen out of the rotation this year for Charlotte. I’m not necessarily sure another team is going to actively seek out Kaminsky and propose a trade for him (unless they are just that desperate because injuries are a thing in the NBA), but I do think he could be a filler piece in a bigger trade of some sorts.

For instance, let’s say Charlotte goes after an above average forward to pair with Walker if the Hornets end up having a competitive season. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Kupchak throw Kaminsky in a deal as a sweetener/filler. Standing alone, he probably isn’t worth much, given he doesn’t contribute for a team that is fighting for a playoff spot. Again, it’s difficult to speculate these types of things, but it’s fairly safe to say Kaminsky won’t net a first round pick if traded.

@CorbinSpivey asks,

Don’t get me wrong. I would love another All-Star to pair with Kemba Walker. That said, I don’t think Kevin Love fits that mold.

Giving up only Biyombo, Lamb, and a 2019 first rounder would be favorable, but Love has only played 65+ games five times of ten times in his career. Not to mention, he’s set to make $30 million per year starting in 2019, which, again, isn’t favorable for a 30-year old player who is, at best, the third option on a championship-level team.

I know the Hornets aren’t necessarily aiming for a championship, but that should be the ultimate goal, right? Making a trade for Love would not help your future cap situation as well as put a ceiling on your mid/long-term potential as a team.

If Walker doesn’t stay after this season (given a Love deal happens), you’re stuck in the exact situation the Cavaliers are in right now.

@BrendanABailey asks,

Miles Bridges is being utilized correctly. He’s a rookie, and the Hornets are trying to put themselves in a contending position for a playoff spot this season.

I do think Bridges is talented enough to play right now, yes. However, if the team really believes it can make the playoffs, which doesn’t seem out of reach by any means at this point, then they should continue with what they’ve been doing.

His dunks are really fun to watch, but looking at the Hornets upcoming schedule (Bulls, 76ers, Heat, Thunder), it may be safer to play him during a stretch of games against bad teams. I’m not saying he should be out of the lineup completely because it clearly doesn’t work in some cases (just look at last year), but to give Bridges 25 minutes per game off the bat is a little much.