The Charlotte Bobcats second trip to the NBA Playoffs in franchise history was the first trip to end in 2014. The Bobcats were the only team in the entire postseason field that was swept, albeit to the defending champions in the Miami Heat. However, not much could have been expected from this Bobcats team after Al Jefferson was hobbled early in the series.
Without Jefferson, the Bobcats lost their biggest advantage in the series. Having a huge center like Jefferson to bang in the post against Miami’s small-ball lineups was easily Charlotte’s greatest strength and biggest chance at pulling an upset. Jefferson played in the first three games, but was basically doing so on one good foot.
Charlotte still fought and remained competitive, though, which was impressive from a young and still relatively inexperienced team. A big part of that was third-year point guard Kemba Walker, who came up huge time and again in the series.
Over the four games in the series, Walker put up 19.5 points, six assists, 3.8 rebounds and two steals in 38.3 minutes per game while shooting an impressive 47.3 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three. Walker showed in college he was an ultra-competitor who lived for the big moment who rises to the occasion in big moments and that seemed to only continue with his first run in the postseason.
However, it’s still not time yet to declare Walker an upper-tier point guard just yet. It’s clear he has the ability to be at that level and his ability to step up in big moments is going to be huge in regards to helping him earn that label. That being said, he still has to do more for this team.
While he was a big part of their success, Walker’s regular season wasn’t really impressive as a whole, despite Charlotte winning 43 games on the year. His scoring and assist numbers stayed almost the same as they were in his sophomore season, but his efficiency dipped to below 40 percent shooting from the field and he still shot a sub-par 33.3 percent from long-range. If he wants to be considered among the league’s best point guards, that’s something that has to change.
I understand the argument that it’s the regular season and the team still won and that he’s option B with Jefferson on the roster. However, Walker has to show a level of sustained success and leadership throughout an entire 82-game regular season in addition to stepping up in the postseason for him to be in that upper echelon when it comes to point guards.
Walker could very well get to that level in the near future, especially as the Bobcats add more pieces around him to help him succeed. He’s already a great point guard and a guy Charlotte has to want to keep around for the future, but there are still steps for him to take before he reaches that next level. Perhaps these playoffs, even in while being swept, were the beginning of him making that leap, but we’ll have to wait until November to see.