History Suggests Kemba Walker Has The Opportunity To Become One Of The Most Beloved Celtics Of The Last Decade
I thought about saving this until the official Celtics preview but we’re going to have to much to cover in that blog I figured this deserved it’s own post. Now that the season is on only a stone’s throw away, it’s time for us to have an honest and truthful conversation about Kemba Walker. Whether it’s fair or not, and frankly it’s probably not, there are legit expectations for Kemba Walker to come into this organization and fix it. He is expected to replace All NBA point guard production with his own All NBA point guard play while also fixing this teams glaring chemistry issues from last season. The intangibles, the improvement in leadership and all that shit is supposed to be what closes the gap in what everyone can admit is a disparity in talent going from Kyrie to Kemba. There are things on the court that Kemba does better than Kyrie, there’s a lot he doesn’t do nearly as well, but the facts remain that Kemba is entering a situation where he has the opportunity to eventually become one of if not the most beloved Celtics point guards in over a decade.
But there are certainly questions that cannot be ignored. First and foremost, he’s never played under the sort of expectations that now exist in Boston. Sure he’s on the most talented team he’s ever played on, but we have no idea how that’s going to translate. His production was solid in CHA, but was that because he was that good or because he was the only option? Can he figure out a way to become the efficient scorer/shooter that we’ve grown accustomed to from the point guard position ranging from the Isaiah years to Kyrie’s two seasons. How will he handle being attacked defensively in crunch time? Should we be concerned that he’s not nearly the off ball shooter Kyrie was? There are a ton of unknowns which makes Kemba’s season so interesting. But a quick look at history tells us there is potential for him to be treated like a king.
Think back to 2014-15. It was very clear that Brad and Rondo were at odds and that it was time for a change. Given what he accomplished in 2008 and then how much of a playoff monster Rondo proved to be, he’ll forever be considered as one of the best point guards in franchise history. But in that season his play struggled, the team struggled, and Danny Ainge made a move and brought in another point guard.
An undersized point guard who had only played on dogshit teams in his career but showed flashes as an elite scorer and a playmaker was brought in to take over for a disgruntled point guard and change the chemistry of the team. As we know over the second half of the 2014-15 season Isaiah carried the Celtics from the lottery to the playoffs, said and did all the right things and immediately the fanbase was hooked. He then went on to back up that run with one of the best 2.5 year stretches we’ve seen offensively from that position and honestly probably since the 2008 Rondo season suddenly became one of the most beloved Celtics point guards in recent memory. He showed us he cared, he played the right way at an extremely high level and embraced this city and this franchise.
Fast forward to 2019-20. Danny Ainge has found another undersized point guard who has only played on dogshit teams but showed flashes as an elite scorer and a playmaker who was brought in to take over for a disgruntled point guard and change the chemistry of the team. Every single one of us wanted to believe that Kyrie was going to buy in like Isaiah did, be the postseason hero that Isaiah was, and be that missing piece to get the team over the hump. It didn’t happen. Not even close. So as we turn to the Kemba Era, things are a little different in terms of expectations. Where we expected Finals appearances from Kyrie, those don’t exist for Kemba. His are different, but equally as important. It feels like as a fanbase we are itching to fall in love with Kemba because he’s saying all the right things, is damn good at basketball and honestly a huge part of it has to do with the fact that he’s simply not Kyrie.
If Kemba delivers? Proves that what we saw in CHA was legit and we see with the typical Brad Stevens Point Guard Bump that he is producing on the Isaiah/Kyrie level on the court while bringing NONE of the drama, he’s going to treated in a way he’s never experienced so far in his career . If he produces in the postseason like Isaiah did, it’s going to go up a level. When I think of beloved Celtics point guards in my lifetime, it’s a pretty short list. For me personally it’s like Kenny Anderson, Rondo, and Isaiah. You’ll notice a certain theme there.
This is not me saying Kemba is going to become one of the best Celtics of all time. This is not me saying Kemba is going to deliver titles or make them Finals contenders or anything like that. All I am saying is there is a real opportunity for Kemba to reach that Isaiah level of love with this fanbase. I keep thinking back to what Ainge told Isaiah when he first brought him in
“Isaiah … the way you play the game of basketball, you could be a Celtics legend.”
Using the term legend very loosely, that sort of happened. The exact same thing now exists with Kemba Walker.