Kemba Walker Looks Finished After Poor Start With New York Knicks

Kemba Walker, New York Knicks, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau surprised some people when he announced he was making a change to his starting lineup. Former NBA All-Star Kemba Walker was being removed from the starting five, and rotation altogether. Alec Burks will be taking over as the team’s starting point guard going forward.

This was a shocking move because Thibodeau is not one to normally make such a change, especially this early into the season. New York is only 20 games into the 2020-21 campaign and after it took Elfrid Payton until the postseason to be removed from the rotation, many people thought Walker would get a little longer.

Ultimately, Thibodeau decided that he had seen enough. While surprising and certainly a difficult decision, given how excited people were for Walker’s arrival to the Knicks, removing him from the rotation was the right decision.

The Bronx native is having the worst statistical season of his career thus far with the Knicks. The 11.7 points, 3.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds are all career-lows in addition to the 24.5 minutes per game. One positive for Walker is that he is knocking down a career-high 41.3 percent from the 3-point line, but that was not nearly enough for him to keep his rotation spot.

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Thus far this season, Walker’s -122 plus/minus is the worst mark for a player on a team with a winning record. New York has also been much better with him off the court than on it.

As Fred Kats of The Athletic pointed out, the New York Knicks have the best defensive rating in the NBA when Walker is on the bench. With him on the court, they are dead last with a difference of 17.3. 

Offensively it is much of the same. New York is 9th in the NBA in offensive rating when Walker is sitting, but when he is on the court, they are 27th.

This was certainly not the storybook ending that many people were hoping to see when it was announced that the Knicks had signed Walker following his buyout agreement with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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What is next for Walker? He is a consummate professional, so for as long as he remains with the Knicks he will be there cheering on his teammates and staying ready should his number be called again.

The team will reportedly look to trade Walker, but at this point, it is hard to imagine he has much of a trade market. His contract is palatable, but numbers don’t lie and Walker was not helping the Knicks win games this season.

Maybe in a role off the bench, he can help a team, as he proved he could still shoot the ball with efficiency from the 3-point line. But, it seems like the injuries caught up with Walker, as he is no longer a player that can be relied upon as someone to break down a defense and get to the basket consistently.