However his efficiency up to now has accomplished simply that. Walker ranks third within the N.B.A. in offensive plus/minus, a catchall stat to measure the general worth of a participant’s offensive recreation. Rating No. four in that measurement is James; No. 5 is Durant. Walker can also be taking extra Three-pointers than ever earlier than, whereas nonetheless making them (36.2 p.c) at round his profession price. He’s elevated his effectivity from contained in the arc as effectively, and it’s now a career-best 51 p.c.
And in maybe the best marker of a star, he’s placing up performances like his 60-point effort in opposition to Philadelphia on Nov. 17 (the Sixers made it clear after the sport that they merely had no reply for Walker), and making his teammates higher as effectively. Having the ball in his palms hasn’t come on the expense of different Hornets having the ability to make performs, and eight Hornets have an help proportion of no less than 10, reflecting a crew that makes the suitable cross as typically as anybody, notably contemplating Charlotte’s league-low turnover price.
“He’s simply drawing a lot consideration to himself that plenty of groups try to double-team him, blitz these excessive pick-and-rolls,” stated Cody Zeller, the Hornets heart and longtime Walker teammate. Zeller’s help proportion was 7.four final season however has ballooned to 12 this yr. “So, Kemba may be very unselfish. He has widespread sense to make performs. Loads of occasions he takes on a double crew, kicks it to me after which it’s on me to create for the following alternative.”
For Walker, there’s been no large change in food plan, no secret exercise routine. However he has embraced Borrego’s name for making faster choices — one thing other than uncooked tempo numbers, however which has led to a crew that dribbles much less and passes extra. So whereas the Hornets have fallen from eighth within the league final yr in tempo to 12th this season, their offensive effectivity has jumped from 13th to seventh, which means they’re making every possession depend.
Even on the defensive finish, the undersized Walker has discovered one other degree. He has improved in pick-and-roll defending, striving to get harder in an space through which he had been vulnerable to getting victimized on both the display screen or the change. Walker now ranks among the many higher guards within the league on such performs.
“It’s Kemba’s effort,” Borrego stated. “We’ve tweaked our protection from how they’ve performed previously. It’s a crew effort, however I give Kemba a ton of credit score. His effort by means of the pick-and-roll is nearly as good as anyone. He’s preventing by means of screens, he’s guarding one of the best level guards each single evening, and he’s competing on that finish of the ground.”