Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker was selected to his third NBA All-Star game on Thursday. Walker will start the All-Star game for the first time in his career and matches the Hornets’ franchise record for All-Star appearances set by Glen Rice.
Walker has been carrying Charlotte this season. The Hornets are held back by some awful contracts, but the 2011 ninth overall pick is improving year-on-year and deserves this recognition as one of the league’s elite guards.
He leads the Eastern Conference in scoring among guards and leads the NBA in clutch scoring. Only LeBron James is averaging more fourth quarter points than Walker.
Walker is averaging career-highs in field goal attempts, three-point attempts, two-point percentage and points. Charlotte’s offensive rating leaps by 2.8 with Walker on the floor.
The Hornets are only a borderline playoff team, though they occupy seventh in the East at the moment. No team in the NBA is as dependent on their star player as Charlotte are on Walker. Without him, they are a lottery team. With him, they could finish sixth and play their first playoff series since a first round exit in 2016.
Walker was always going to be an All-Star, his numbers are just too good for him not to be. With the recent performances of Bradley Beal, the popularity of Dwyane Wade and Ben Simmons’ presence, though, it was not guaranteed that he would start.
The 6’1” star is a beneficiary of the weak East, and the NBA’s bizarre desire to keep splitting All-Stars by conference. He might not be in the best four guards in the NBA – he would be touch and go for All-NBA honours as it stands – but it’s good to see his superb season in a small market rewarded.
Charlotte are not going to be making a playoff run this season (barring a big trade or two). Walker is not a superstar name like the other starters. His selection, though, will be the most popular of all as the Hornets fans, who have not had much to cheer in recent years, get to see their hometown favourite on the court from tip-off on 18th February alongside some of the league’s greatest ever players.
“I don’t know if a lot of players can actually say they played in the All-Star Game in their actual city, their team’s city,” Walker said.
Walker earned this. He has put the Hornets on his back yet again this season and warrants his place with the best in the sport.