In a season for the Charlotte Bobcats where being mediocre would be a vast improvement, one of the few promising things has been second-year guard Kemba Walker.
Walker had some problems adjusting to the NBA last season, averaging only 12.1 points, 4.4 assists and 0.9 steals per game on 36.6 percent shooting. He also ranked 136th in Player Efficiency Rating for the 2011-2012 season, earning a 14.98.
This year, Walker seems to have figured things out. He’s raised all of his per game averages, which are currently at 17.3 points, 5.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game on 42.9 percent. Moreover, he’s the only Bobcat in the top-50 in the league in PER with an 18.68 rating.
He’s emerging as a young player on the cusp of becoming a star around the Association.
However, during Charlotte’s game on Monday against the Boston Celtics, Walker tweaked his ankle diving for a loose ball. He came up lame after Brandon Bass landed on the ankle, but continued playing after.
Walker wasn’t listed on Tuesday’s injury report for the Bobcats’ game against the Indiana Pacers. He started and played like normal.
But in the second quarter against Indiana, he came down after shooting a jumper onto Ian Mahinmi’s foot and fell to the floor holding the same ankle that he tweaked on Monday. Walker had to leave the game for the rest of the quarter. He returned in the third quarter though, playing through the pain and trying to mask it.
The Bobcats don’t play again until they meet the Orlando Magic on Friday. However, if Walker’s ankle is even remotely bothering him, he should rest and not play in that game.
At 9-29, Charlotte’s season is close to being deemed a lost-cause. Why would they want to risk one of the most important pieces for their future on a game that’s virtually meaningless?
Look at Stephen Curry. Last season, he had several issues with his ankles that started out as small problems. But because the Golden State Warriors sat him out for an extended period of time and allowed him to recover, he’s thriving and helping their team to be an up-and-comer in the NBA.
When it comes to talented young players like Walker and Curry that have a lot invested in them, team’s shouldn’t take chances. If Walker were to play against the Magic through pain, he risks seriously injuring himself, which would make this Bobcats season even more insufferable than it already is.
That’s why Charlotte should play this situation with Walker cautiously. He has entirely too much potential to have his team act recklessly with his health.