When the New York Knicks signed point guard Kemba Walker to a two-year contract, they knew he would be bringing in elevated offensive abilities and leadership. Featuring Elfrid Payton as a primary starter last year, the Knicks went into the offseason prioritizing the PG spot.
After retaining Derrick Rose on a three-year contract, the front office didnâ€™t stop there, securing Walker’s services and drafting Miles McBride out of West Virginia with the 36th overall pick.
However, Kemba has the potential to be the difference-maker and catalyst behind a team that simply lacked scoring production during the postseason.
Last year with the Boston Celtics, Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and shot 42% from the field over 43 games. Having a one-two punch with Rose and Walker should allow the knicks to mitigate fatigue and keep the rotation of point guards fresh.
The veteran spoke of his new team and the mentality he has headed into the 2021-22 season.
In an interview with New York Post’s Steve Serby, Kemba Walker detailed his approach on the court and how he views his new teammates:
â€œFearless. Thereâ€™s nothing Iâ€™m scared to do. Iâ€™m not afraid of anything on the court.â€
Despite having a degenerative left knee, Walker is fighting to get himself prepared for a full regular season. Luckily, the Knicks have built a safety net around him and are not entirely relying on him to play in all 82 games.
Walker mentioned several players on the roster heâ€™s excited about, including RJ Barrett and Julius Randle:
â€œHis toughness, and his growth from the last couple of years into now, Iâ€™m just like in awe the way he has grown as a basketball player. Iâ€™m looking forward to being out there with him,â€ Kemba said of Randle.
Speaking on the young Barrett, Walker detailed his growth and come-up from the high school level.
â€œIâ€™ve just been a fan of him. When he was in high school I saw him play and I saw his highlights and stuff like that, Iâ€™ve always been a super-big fan of him. Playing against guys like RJ, the first thing I noticed was how hard he plays, itâ€™s not even the skill. â€¦ Thatâ€™s a real talent, playing hard. So Iâ€™m looking forward to just helping those guys a little bit more, teaching them the ropes. Just being a vet.â€
There is no question that the roster is full of talent, and pairing Walker with Barrett and Randle should elevate their scoring production. Randle might have to give up some possessions to Walker, who also commands the ball as an offensive threat, but using his physicality inside, Randle can collect more offensive rebounds and provide value in that way.
Last season, Randle averaged 1.2 offensive rebounds per game but posted a high of 2.4 during the 2019-20 season when the Knicks also relied on Marcus Morris. Having alternative threats will allow Randle to sit in the paint and use his strength/boxing out in different ways.
Ultimately, just spreading the floor with more talent will keep defenses on their toes. During the postseason, Atlanta simply double-teamed Julius and took him out of the game, forcing other playmakers to try and compensate for his loss. The Knicks now have several players who can help take attention away from the All-Star power forward and force opposing teams to strategize differently.