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Kemba Walker is falling in the draft. How low will he go?

Jun 23, 2011, 11:42 AM EDT

NCAA Men's Championship Game - Butler v UConn Getty Images

There was a time, right after Kemba Walker made big plays in crunch time leading his UConn Huskies to the national title, that Walker was a top five pick in this draft.

But his stock is falling and he could plummet down the draft board all the way to the Knicks at No. 17 (no way he’d slide past them). He still may well go to the Sacramento Kings at No. 7, but the owner Maloof brothers have reportedly been pushing hard for the more marketable Jimmer Fredette to be the team’s pick there. Or the Kings may trade out of the spot.

If the Kings do not take him, look for the free fall to begin. The Jazz may take him at No. 12… unless Fredette is still on the board.

Why the fall? A couple of factors.

One is that teams are falling in love with the potential of others in this draft — with Walker they know what they are getting. He has real heart and toughness, He will be a leader in the locker room quickly. He is very athletic and quick, he can drive the lane. The concerns are that he is a shoot-first guard with a streaky shot (at best, it needs work).

Teams know they are getting something solid with Walker. However, with point guards like Brandon Knight of Kentucky there is a much higher ceiling. This is a draft where a lot of the guys have flaws but their potential upside is higher than Walker’s and that is attracting teams.

The other is need — a lot of teams picking after the King’s don’t really need a point guard, they will take what they see as an equal player at more of a position of need. Maybe the Suns grab him at No. 13 to back up Steve Nash.

This is the kind of situation that five-years from now we all look back and say “why didn’t anyone take the guy who was a baller on the biggest stage of the NCAA Tournament?” Walker has proved himself in pressure situations and that has to count for something. The guy is going to be at least good for any team that drafts him, and if his shot and passing improve he could be a quality floor general in a few years.

But that is the draft, where teams fall in love with potential.

  1. 78deville - Jun 23, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    He’s falling because he played for three seasons! These dumb GM’s only want to take guys the don’t know a lot about because they think that the unknown equals potential. These are the same GM’s that give the Joe Johnson’s and Elton Brands max deals.

    • themanchine - Jun 23, 2011 at 12:12 PM

      can’t thumbs-up this enough

  2. silk32 - Jun 23, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    “That is the draft, where teams fall in love with potential.” Fair point. You would be remiss to mention that “That is the media, where sportswriters fall in love with New Yorkers.” If Kemba grew up in Des Moines, IA, would anybody even care what position in the draft he was taken in? Nolan Smith played guard on the 2010 national championship team. Where is the article about him?

    • themanchine - Jun 23, 2011 at 12:02 PM

      Nolan Smith = Chris Duhon

      • LPad - Jun 23, 2011 at 12:06 PM

        Given the coverage “the Jimmer” is getting the answer would be yes.

    • blueintown - Jun 23, 2011 at 1:55 PM

      Harrison Barnes grew up in Ames, IA (next to Des Moines), and will probably go first overall next year. I’m sure the media will care about that.

      • silk32 - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:34 PM

        “Ames” is still not “Des Moines” though. Nonetheless, I think you missed the original point.

      • blueintown - Jun 23, 2011 at 3:07 PM

        Thanks for clearing that up. It was ironic that you picked Des Moines, of which Ames is a part of the greater metro area. I didn’t care about your original point.

  3. LPad - Jun 23, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    One thing I don’t understand about the Kemba analysis is that they ignore the fact that he played a key role on the team that went to the Final Four as a freshman and in that role he was more a faciliator and playmaker. He only started score more this year when Calhoun made him the focal point of the offense. Surely, the fact he had different roles each year he was in college and did all of them well would make it more obvious that he isn’t a gunner.

    Then again these are the same people that say being 6-9, 250 makes you a tweener. Even though the average PF in the league is either 6-9, 250 or 6-10, 250.

  4. yankeesjetsknicksrangers - Jun 23, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    That would be a dream come true, but I’m sure it would end up like 2009 when Stephen Curry went right before us to GS.

  5. edmazeing1 - Jun 23, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    I thought the draft was tonight? how is he falling if the draft has not yet started?

  6. passerby23 - Jun 23, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Doesn’t Kemba Walker have an upside? Doesn’t he have potential? People are talking about the guy like he’s reached his ceiling. His shot can still get better, his PG skills can get better, his passing will improve. The kid is going to be good. If he drops to 17, something is seriously wrong.

  7. ndirishfan1 - Jun 23, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    Initially I didn’t think Kemba Walker was worth a high pick, but I’ve been watching UConn NCAA Tournament games on and this guy can play–at a very high level. He can be a starting point guard on a very good team. I think he’d LOVE it if he fell to the Knicks at #17, but I hope people are smart enough to grab him sooner. For all those teams hoping Jimmer sells tickets for them in Sacramento or Utah, that would require him to play more than 15-20 minutes a game which I just don’t see right now. Not for a good team. Great shooter though.

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