Knicks News: Kemba Walker injury update, New York eyes 4th straight win

thom thibodeau, knicks, kemba walker

The New York Knicks are preparing to take on the Charlotte Hornets on Monday afternoon at 1 PM, but they might be without Kemba Walker once again, whose last game was against Detroit on December 29. Walker has missed every game of the new year, representing six contests in which the Knicks have won five of them.

Thanks to the incredible turnaround of third-year guard RJ Barrett, Walker‘s loss has been relatively insignificant, relying on Immanuel Quickley, Alec Burks, and Miles McBride as the primary point guards. Recently, New York acquired Cam Reddish from the Atlanta Hawks, a young small forward with tremendous potential. However, it’s still possible they target a point guard at the deadline in hopes of adding more talent.

Recently, the Knicks were connected to Jalen Brunson of the Dallas Mavericks, and with a few weeks left to secure a deal, it is not out of the picture that the Knicks may continue to have serious talks. Usually, when there is smoke, there’s fire.

As for Kemba, he’s been dealing with a knee injury to his left leg, which was always going to be a concern this season. Bringing back Derrick Rose on a three-year deal was supposed to supplement any injury concerns, but given both are missing time simultaneously, the Knicks have had to rely on other players.

Per Marc Berman of the NY Post, Thibodeau played off Kemba Walker’s injury and focused on who’s available:

“You make your decisions based on the people you have available, but we’ll see when we get guys back,’’ Thibodeau said. “We’re always gonna do what’s best for the team, period. Whatever gives us the best chance to win, that’s what we have to do, so everyone has got to sacrifice. I want us to be at full strength. I think that gives us our best chance. So hopefully, we can get Kemba back soon and we’ll get Derrick [Rose] back and be ready to roll.’’

If Kemba is unable to start again, Charlotte, expect heavy doses of Quickley and Burks. Reddish is still coming back from an ankle issue, so don’t expect him to play for at least another few days. However, the Hornets or no pushover, sitting at 23–20 on the season but having an 11–14 record away, gives the Knicks a slight advantage. They have won four of their last five games but recently lost to one of the worst teams in basketball, the Orlando Magic.

If the Knicks want to secure victory, they need to stifle LaMelo Ball, who is averaging 19.4 points per game and 7.6 assists. Charlotte also features Miles Bridges, who is posting 19.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Limiting Bridges and Ball is easier said than done, but their best way to success is hyper-focusing on them defensively. Make their role players beat them.

Luckily for New York, they will have an advantage inside with their physicality and height but need to be wary of Charlotte‘s three-point shooting. They currently rank 3rd in the league at 37.3% from downtown. However, they are the 21st ranked rebounding team, so expect New York to present physicality and look for offensive rebounds as a catalyst for offensive production.

Knicks officially sign Ryan Arcidiacono but debut delayed by injury

After a few days’ delay, Ryan Arcidiacono officially became a member of the New York Knicks on Thursday.

But after signing a standard 10-day contract, the Knicks have listed the newly-acquired point guard in the official NBA injury report as out with sprained left ankle.

It is unclear if Arcidiacono sustained the injury at practice or before signing. New York coach Tom Thibodeau is expected to update the severity of Arcidiacono’s injury before Thursday’s game against the Boston Celtics.

Arcidiacono will receive $102,831 from the Knicks that would account against their salary cap. He temporarily fills the Knicks’ 15th roster spot.

Arcidiacono can sign another 10-day contract after his first one expires on January 16 before the Knicks have to decide on retaining him for the rest of the season or waiving him.

The former Villanova star earlier signed a 10-day hardship contract, but the NBA rescinded it after several Knicks players cleared the health and safety protocols earlier than expected.

Arcidiacono has built a reputation as a high-energy and smart backup point guard in the NBA. He is viewed as insurance after the Knicks lost Derrick Rose (ankle surgery) and Kemba Walker (knee soreness).

Rose won’t return until late February while Walker is day-to-day. Walker will miss his fourth straight game Thursday against his former team, Boston Celtics.

Arcidiacono spent training camp with the Celtics but got cut. He played for the Celtics’ G League affiliate, Maine, as a starter in six games. He averaged 12.7 points, 8.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.3 steals over 32.2 minutes.

Arcidiacono spent his first four seasons in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls. He averaged 4.8 points, 2.2 assists, and 2.0 rebounds in 17.6 minutes over 206 games, including 37 starts.

Arcidiacono played four seasons at Villanova, capping his stint with the Most Outstanding Player award in the Wildcats’ 2016 NCAA title run. He was also named First-Team All-Big East and Big East Co-Player of the Year as a junior in 2015. But despite his accolades, he went undrafted in the 2016 class headlined by Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram.

Meanwhile, Nerlens Noel remains questionable as he continues to ramp up his build-up for competition after spending more than 10 days in the health and safety protocols.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

Knicks’ rookie point guard ready to step in and smooth over Kemba Walker injury

knicks, miles mcbride

When the New York Knicks inked Derrick Rose to a three-year extension and signed Kemba Walker to a two-year deal in free agency, the front office was preparing to mitigate fatigue and injury throughout the entire season.

However, while they thought one would be able to supplement the other, the injury bug has hit the point guard position for the Knicks at an inopportune time.

Luckily, they spent one of their draft elections on West Virginia stand-out PG Miles McBride, this past class. The young guard has shown flashes of quality in just four appearances with 20 minutes or more on the floor.

After Kemba Walker returned from exile to post vintage numbers, he suffered a left knee injury during pregame warm-ups on Friday that could keep them out for several days. Head coach Tom Thibodeau was unsure of the severity after the game, but the Knicks will run more tests to determine how long he will miss.

“I don’t know, because he started his warm-up, and then he stopped. And then [trainer] Anthony [Goenaga] was looking at him and just felt, let’s get him examined, and then we’ll go from there.,” Thibs said regarding the severity.

McBride, though, is more than capable of filling the void in the meantime. In fact, the essential experience McBride will enjoy could help take his game to the next level.

The Knicks know what Miles McBride can do:

The defensive maestro has shown flashes in nearly every category, scoring 15 points against the Houston Rockets on December 16, paired with nine assists, showcasing his facilitation. He also recorded four steals in that game, presenting a difference-maker off the bench.

Against the Detroit Pistons on December 29, he posted a +39 +/- despite scoring zero points. His defensive efficiency was incredible, making him extremely valuable to the next double-digit comeback in the fourth quarter.

It is possible that Thibodeau relies on Alec Burks as the primary starting PG while Walker recovers, and even Immanuel Quickley can earn some minutes, but McBride offers solid defense on an every-night basis, which is something he prefers.

Giving McBride an opportunity to start and showcase his qualities as he shakes off the jitters could end up being fruitful. He was forced into the starting slot against the Oklahoma City Thunder, which he wasn’t prepared for. He finished with seven points and one assist over 24 minutes.

The Knicks are preparing to take on the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night, and McBride will undoubtedly have a major role in helping his team back into the win column.

Severely shorthanded Knicks face tall task vs Raptors with Robinson, Walker out

mitchell robinson, knicks

The New York Knicks will begin the new year severely shorthanded after Mitchell Robinson entered the health and safety protocols.

On Saturday, the Knicks announced that Robinson is the latest to test positive for COVID-19. Julius Randle, Nerlens Noel, Jericho Sims, and Wayne Selden are still in the protocols.

Robinson had nine points and 12 rebounds in their 95-80 loss to Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night. Oklahoma City’s rising star Shai-Gilgeous Alexander is the only other player from that game to enter the protocols.

Newsday’s Steve Popper added that assistant coaches Johnnie Bryant, Kenny Payne, and Dice Yoshimoto are also out.

Kemba Walker will also miss his second straight game due to a sore left knee, while Evan Fournier, who had a rough 1 of 8 shooting night in Oklahoma City, is questionable with a sore right ankle.

Walker’s injury bears watching as soreness is on his arthritic knee.

“I don’t know [how serious the injury is], because he started his warm-up, and then he stopped. And then [trainer] Anthony [Goenaga] was looking at him and just felt it, you know, let’s get [knee] examined, and then we’ll go from there,” Thibodeau said after the New Year eve’s loss.

The Knicks’ injury tally has already reached nine players. Danuel House, Jr. (dislocated finger), Derrick Rose (ankle surgery), and Luca Samanic (foot) round up the list.

Damyean Dotson and Matt Mooney got a second 10-day contract on Friday. But neither player is a center.

That leaves Taj Gibson as the only remaining center for the Knicks. New York coach Tom Thibodeau might have no choice but use Obi Toppin as small-ball five with either Kevin Knox or RJ Barrett as a power forward during the non-Gibson minutes.

The severely undermanned Knicks will be hard-pressed against the Toronto Raptors, who are nearing full strength with rookie stud Scottie Barnes listed as probable.

The Raptors are coming off a 116-108 win over the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night, drawing double figures from Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Fred Van Vleet, and Gary Trent, Jr.

The Knicks will be looking to sign a temporary big man via the 10-day hardship rule to fill the hole.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks News: Kemba Walker’s injury, Julius Randle’s impact missed Vs Thunder

In the Knicks‘ first game without Julius Randle after the star power forward landed on the NBA’s health and safety protocols list, they dropped a dud to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

After barely squeaking out of victory against a league-worst Detroit Pistons team, the Knicks were outmatched entirely by Oklahoma City, who held them to just a measly 80 points compared to the Thunder’s 95.

However, more bad news developed before the game, as a veteran point guard Kemba Walker with scratched due to left knee soreness. Walker felt something odd during pregame warm-ups, forcing the Knicks to get him evaluated before allowing him to play.

“It was last minute,’’ Thibodeau said. “He was warming up, and something didn’t feel right. So, I haven’t talked to the trainers yet. It was a last-minute scratch.’’

The Knicks eventually sat Walker, starting Miles McBride in his place, who sported seven points and shot 3 of 9 from the field over 24 minutes. McBride being forced into a starting role certainly wasn’t expected, and he struggled to get things going on short notice.

“I don’t know, because he started his warm-up, and then he stopped. And then [trainer] Anthony [Goenaga] was looking at him and just felt, let’s get him examined, and then we’ll go from there.,” Thibs said regarding the severity.

The entire Knicks team suffered through poor shooting efficiency and lackluster defense. RJ Barrett led the team with 26 points and seven rebounds, shooting 10 of 20 from the field and just 1 of 8 from three-point range. The Knicks shot an embarrassing 19.5% from three, one of their worst marks of the season. Alternatively, Oklahoma City hit on 41.9%, with Shai Gilgeous–Alexander posting 23 points.

If Walker is forced to miss any time, expect to see plenty of McBride and Alec Burks rotating at point guard. They may even ask Immanuel Quickley to fill the starting role — he came off the bench in a reserve utility against the Thunder.

Julius Randle’s impact missed by the Knicks Vs Thunder:

Recently, Julius Randle has been getting a lot of hate for his lackluster defense and inconsistent scoring. However, the Knicks missed his presence against Oklahoma City, who not only outmuscled New York on the boards but simply outplayed them in every facet. However, the Knicks did create good looks at the basket, they just weren’t able to convert. A bad shooting night might’ve been the culprit.

Suppose you consider the fact that Randle is averaging 19.3 points per game this year, and nearly double-digit rebounds. In that case, his presence might’ve been the difference between winning and losing this game, as Obi Toppin added just five points over 27 minutes. It’s an argument to consider but the flow of the game suggested New York just didn’t knock down open looks.

Hopefully, the Knicks prove this was just an anomaly against Oklahoma City as they prepare to face off against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday afternoon.

Knicks turn cold for second straight New Year’s eve

The New York Knicks struggled to make shots sans their top three playmakers.

Without Julius Randle (health and safety protocols), Kemba Walker (sore left knee), and Derrick Rose (ankle surgery), RJ Barrett led the Knicks attack. Still, he didn’t muster enough support as they fell to the hot-shooting Oklahoma City Thunder, 90-85, Friday night at Paycom Center.

For the second straight New Year’s eve, the Knicks turned cold from the outside.

Last year in Tampa, the Knicks shot 3 for 36 from downtown and missed 20 three-pointers in a row at one ugly stretch. They lost that game, 100-83, to the Toronto Raptors, who notched their first win at their expense. The Knicks’ starters bricked all their 23 three-point attempts becoming the first starting five with the most misses without a make all-time, per ESPN Stats & Info.

There was an uncanny resemblance of that cold shooting night in Oklahoma City. Against the Thunder, they were 8 for 41 from deep, with the starters going 3 for 20.

As cold as the Knicks were, the Thunder were the exact opposite.

The home team hit a season-high-tying 18 3s on a sizzling 41.9 percent clip.

Barrett barrelled his way to 26 points on 10 of 20 shooting in a showdown with fellow Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who had 23. But the difference is Gilgeous-Alexander got plenty of support.

Aaron Wiggins, who worked out with the Knicks last summer, continued his solid run with 13 points on 5 of 8 shots. It was his fourth straight double-digit scoring game.

The Knicks’ second unit, a position of strength all season, got outscored 43-30. Aleksej Pokusevski’s 11 points led Oklahoma City’s bench mob.

Obi Toppin, who started for Randle, produced only five points — all in the first half — and added seven rebounds and one assist against one turnover in 27 minutes.

Rookie Miles McBride started for Walker, a last-minute scratch because of a sore left knee.

“I don’t know [how serious the injury is], because he started his warm-up, and then he stopped. And then Anthony [Goenaga] was looking at him and just felt it, you know, let’s get [knee] examined, and then we’ll go from there,” Thibodeau said after the New Year eve’s loss.

McBride was one of the many Knicks players who struggled offensively.

The Knicks had great looks, but the shots didn’t fall. They reportedly didn’t have a shootaround as a precaution due to the ravaging COVID-19.

McBride missed five of six three-point tries. Barrett went 1 of 8 from downtown. Evan Fournier couldn’t shake off the sore ankle that held him against Washington. The French gunner struggled in his return, sinking only one of his five three-point attempts.

The Knicks cut the Thunder’s lead to three, 74-71, early in the fourth quarter. But Pokusevski hit a three-pointer that triggered a 10-0 Thunder run to pull away.

The loss snapped the Knicks’ three-game win streak and fell to 17-19. They will cap their three-game road trip in Toronto on Sunday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Kemba Walker becomes first Knick to win NBA Player of the Week this season

Kemba Walker’s remarkable turnaround in New York has captured the admiration of the entire NBA. The Bronx native capped off his best stretch as a Knick with the NBA Player of the Week award.

Walker averaged 25.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 8.3 assists, leading the Knicks to a 2-1 record in the past week. He beat Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Cleveland’s Darius Garland and Kevin Love, Miami’s Tyler Herro, Max Strus, and Ömer Yurtseven, and Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday in the Eastern Conference for the weekly honor.

Walker is the first Knick to win the NBA Player of the Week award this season.

The Knicks have been 2-2 since Thibodeau reinserted Walker to the lineup when the team had been decimated by the COVID-19 outbreak and Derrick Rose’s ankle injury that required surgery.

Walker started the past week with a 21-point, 8-rebound, 5-assist effort in the Knicks’ 105-91 win over Detroit Tuesday night that snapped a five-game losing streak at home. It was a fitting follow-up to a 29-point night in Boston where the Knicks fell short against his old team Celtics.

Last Thursday, Walker exploded for a season-high 44 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists but were not enough as the Washington Wizards beat the Knicks, 124-117.

On Christmas Day, Walker delivered a triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists) to fuel the Knicks’ 101-887 rout of the Atlanta Hawks.

After three weeks of not hearing his name, Walker walked into the Garden on Christmas as the Knicks’ best gift. The sold-out Garden crowd gave him an ovation and chanted his name as he checked out.

“It was amazing,” Walker said. “Those are the moments that you dream about. It’s kind of hard to put it into words, to be honest.”

Walker looks forward to leading the Knicks to their first win streak since October when they visit Thibodeau’s old team, Minnesota Timberwolves, on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander beat Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, and San Antonios’ Dejounte Murray for the weekly honor in the West.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks: Julius Randle finally learns to co-exist with Kemba Walker

Call it the Knicksmas Day miracle.

The New York Knicks could not have wrapped a perfect Christmas gift for their win-starved fans.

The Knicks’ methodical 101-87 victory over a decimated Atlanta Hawks team can be easily downplayed because of the absence of star villain Trae Young and several key starters. But for those who are wired, the Knicks made a statement win. This is by far their most significant win and could be a turning point of the season marred so far by disappointments.

For the first time, the Knicks’ stars aligned. Their 19-3 start was everything the New York front office envisioned when they’d added Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier in the offseason.

All five starters scored in that sizzling start on a cold Christmas day. Walker, Fournier, and RJ Barrett each hit a triple while Julius Randle made his first two of a season-high six three-pointers. Mitchell Robinson contributed a slam dunk off Walker’s brilliant playmaking.

Walker capped his best week as a Knick with a triple-double. Randle regained his shooting touch. Fournier got going.

After three weeks of not hearing his name, Walker was serenaded with ‘Kemba Walker’ chants when he checked out with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. Randle led the Knicks with 25 points on an efficient 9 of 15 shooting and tied Fournier (15 points on 6 of 12 shots) with a team-best +21 plus-minus rating.

Walker‘s resurgence from the end of the bench is New York’s biggest story. But equally important is Randle’s acceptance of Walker as the central figure that holds the key to this team moving forward.

During the postgame interview with the ABC/ESPN broadcast, Randle acknowledged Walker as the heart and soul of the team.

“I think we’re just feeding off each other,” Randle told reporters in the postgame presser. “I think we were deferring a little too much or trying to figure out how to play with each other, and those things take time. We kind of got a second shot at it.”

It’s been sweeter the second time around.

The Knicks were 1-9 during Walker’s banishment. They have split their four games since his return.

“I’m over it,” Walker said of his benching. “It doesn’t matter anymore at this point. I just take it as a blessing. I think it was a blessing in disguise, to be honest.”

“God just works in mysterious ways, man. He’s blessed me. He’s helped me stay humble, grounded, and he just got me through a tough situation. I just continued to work, and time went on, and guys go down, and I’m back. [The] first game against my old team, I’m back in the starting lineup, and the rest is history from there. Everything happens for a reason.”

New York coach Tom Thibodeau had a different reason when he yanked Walker out of the rotation. Thibodeau said that he only did what he thought was the best for the team, adding that he wanted to add size to the point of attack.

When Randle signed a $117 million extension in the offseason, it was trumpeted as his token to help the Knicks organization maintain flexibility to add a co-star that will make them a contender.

While Walker, with his balky knees, isn’t the co-star he would have expected, the former four-time All-Star represented the dynamic scoring and playmaking they sorely lacked in their first-round exit in last season’s playoffs. Walker’s charming homecoming story was celebrated, but 20 games into the season, his fit next to Randle was questioned as losses piled up.

Thibodeau essentially picked Randle over Walker. And it took a COVID-19 outbreak and a Derrick Rose ankle surgery to give the Knicks a second shot at making the Randle-Walker pairing work.

A move out of desperation has become a source of inspiration.

The Knicks’ image around the league took a hit with every Walker sympathy. It was such a bad look for an organization wanting to attract top-flight stars and to Randle who couldn’t adjust next to a ball-dominant star.

Walker seized the opportunity. Thibodeau noticed that his starting point guard returned with an aggressive approach that wasn’t there in his first 18 games.

“I have,” Walker said. “That’s the exact mindset I’ve had. Just come out and be aggressive. I just have a tendency to kind of not want to step on toes, and I think that’s what I did early on. I was here, and I wasn’t being as aggressive. But I think being out and seeing how the game has been going and flowing put me in a different mindset.”

Walker came back a changed man.

He averaged 26.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, and seven assists since Thibodeau re-inserted him to the rotation. He’s doubled his three-point attempts, shooting 39.5 percent of a staggering 10.8 attempts per game. His 5.8 free throw attempts are proof of the change in his mindset. Most importantly, the Knicks have outscored their opponents by 9.3 during Walker’s 40.2 minutes on the floor. 

It was a stark contrast to his career-low numbers in his first 18 games: 11.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 free throw attempts, and the most damning of it all, his -122 plus-minus total. 

“I’m happy for him. As a teammate, as a brother, I’m happy for him that he’s able to come out and be who he is. I’m sure when he signed to come here, this is kind of what he envisioned, playing the type of basketball he’s playing right now,” Randle said of Walker’s remarkable turnaround. “So I think we just honestly feed off each other, and the team will go as we go.”

Randle embraced the opportunity — a great sign of maturity. It was just one game, but the Knicks have finally unlocked how they can make it work. It’s just a matter of consistency.

When that happens, this Knicksmas Day miracle will turn into the gift that keeps on giving.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks 101, Hawks 87: Kemba Walker’s triple-double powers Knicks past Atlanta

knicks, obi toppin

The New York Knicks needed a win, but just not any win, a victory over a good team that built momentum for the future. Despite not having Trae Young on Christmas day, the Atlanta Hawks tried their best to keep up with a Knicks team that gained back several players from the Covid health and safety list this week.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau shook up the starting five once again, injecting RJ Barrett in and relegating Alec Burks to the bench in a reserve role. The starting team played brilliantly, holding Atlanta to just 87 points after giving up 124 to the Washington Wizards on Thursday night.

Several individual performances stood out the most, especially Julius Randle’s 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 of 9 shooting from three-point range. He connected on 9 of 15 shots from the field and earned a +21 +/-.

The resurrection of Kemba Walker was perfectly timed for a Christmas miracle, as he posted a triple-double against Atlanta, showcasing once again, he’s back.

Walker scored 10 points, recorded 10 rebounds, and 12 assists on the day, helping push New York to another victory since his return from the bench. It seems as if Thibodeau may have no choice but to continue utilizing Walker with Derrick Rose out for a minimum of eight weeks after undergoing surgery on his right ankle this past week.

A rejuvenated team shot 40% from three-point range and 44.7% from the field. They hit just 41.7% from free throws but posted 50 total rebounds and 28 assists. A few under-the-radar performances came from Obi Toppin, who contributed 13 points and an electrifying between the legs dunk with the game winding to an end, and rookie Quentin Grimes, who scored 15 points, recorded two steals, two assists, and shot 5 of 12 and three point range.

Before Grimes was knocked out due to a positive Covid test, he recorded a season-high 27 points against the Milwaukee Bucks on December 12. He has two consecutive games with double-digit points, scratching his way into a more prominent role and posting 25 minutes of play.

Finally, earning a win at home was a big development for the Knicks, and they will look ahead to Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who host the same record as Atlanta. They have won four of their last six games but have dropped their last two against the Mavericks and Jazz. However, Timberwolves guard De’Angelo Russell entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Saturday, so he will be unable to feature against the Knicks on Tuesday.

Knicks’ Kemba Walker is forcing Tom Thibodeau to make a tough decision at point guard

On Thursday night, the New York Knicks might have lost to the Washington Wizards, giving up 124 points, but veteran point guard Kemba Walker showed up to play while his teammates struggled.

Giving up 124 points in four quarters of play is a representation of abysmal defense, and while the Knicks nearly matched Washington’s offensive master-class with their own, it wasn’t enough to secure a victory at home.

The Knicks shot a measly 31% from three-point range as a team, but Walker himself shot 50% from deep, connecting on seven shots. In the game, he recorded a high of 44 points but also contributed eight assists and nine rebounds.

This was Kemba’s most prolific performance as a Knick, coming off two solid games after being banished by Tom Thibodeau after a November 26 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Walker has now scored double-digit points in three consecutive games after claiming he “hated” being on the bench and that he hadn’t spoken to Thibodeau once during his nine-game exile.

The veteran guard had strong words regarding his banishment, and if the Knicks weren’t down significantly due to Covid protocols and Derrick Rose undergoing right ankle surgery, it is likely that Thibodeau would’ve never called upon Walker to make a return. Nonetheless, he’s making a strong case to regain the starting job after losing it as a result of poor defense.

Don’t get it twisted, though — Walker still provides lackluster defense on average. His defensive rating this season is 114.6, the worst over his entire career. He currently houses a -8.8 net rating, his lowest since his rookie season in Charlotte back in 2011. While his three-point percentage is up to 42.1% a season on 6.0 attempts per game, his defense represents such a massive liability on a team that already struggles with giving up points, his presence can be seen as a net negative.

However, if his scoring remains this consistent, it will be incredibly difficult for Thibodeau to leave him out of the starting five. When RJ Barrett returns, Thibs will have a big decision to make between Alec Burks and Walker at the starting guard position. Burks has served as the PG after the benching of Kemba, but he lacks natural facilitation abilities.

With Rose out for a minimum of eight weeks, I would expect to see Walker feature in the starting point guard role moving forward and Burks coming off the bench in his usual offensive catalyst role.