Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License].
- Kemba Walker joined the Boston Celtics as a free agent this summer, signing a four-year, $140 million contract
- Walker will be expected to fill the void left by Kyrie Irving, who left Boston as a free agent during the offseason
- The 29-year-old led the Charlotte Hornets in scoring for a fifth straight season in 2018-2019, with 25.6 points per game
The Boston Celtics made a bold move to replace Kyrie Irving during the offseason, inking point guard Kemba Walker to a lucrative four-year, $141 million contract.
But despite making a move from the Charlotte Hornets, who finished outside the playoff picture for a third straight year while winning just 39 games last season, Walker is expected to see his offensive production dip this season, with a projected points per game pegged at 22.5 in the NBA player futures at BetOnline.
Kemba Walker 2019-20 Season Props
|Points Per Game||Odds at BetOnline|
|Assists Per Game||Odds at BetOnline|
*Odds taken on 10/17/19
Perennial Scoring Leader in Charlotte
The Hornets’ leading scoring in each of the past five seasons, Walker racked up a career-best 25.6 points per game last season, while appearing in all 82 regular-season games for the first time since 2012-2013.
Walker emerged as a workhorse in Charlotte last season, averaging a hefty 34.9 minutes per game, and also led the squad with 5.9 assists per game.
However, with Walker surrounded by a far more talented supporting cast in Boston, he is likely to face less pressure to carry the club in the same way he was forced to in Charlotte. That has already been evident in preseason action, with Walker averaging just 6.5 shots per game through two preseason outings, a substantial dip from the 10 shots per game he averaged last season.
Of course, things are likely to change once the regular season schedule kicks off next Wednesday, when the Celtics visit the Philadelphia 76ers. Walker will no doubt earn his $141 million contract with lots of playing time, leaving him as the most likely candidate to lead the club in scoring.
Surrounded by Scoring Threats
The 29-year-old should benefit from the steady development of Tatum, who emerged as a force during Boston’s first-round sweep of the Indiana Pacers last spring, averaging 19.3 points while making over 14 shot attempts per game.
Kemba Walker talking about Jayson Tatum’s potential: “He’s going to be a star … He really is. Just because of the way he works. Especially now, being around him in training camp and seeing the way he’s playing.” pic.twitter.com/lS1IstNxZ8
— Dante Turo (@DanteOnDeck) October 9, 2019
A breakthrough campaign by Tatum will set the stage for him to battle Walker for the team lead in scoring, and would benefit both players statistically. The constant focus of opposing defenses during his eight years with the Hornets, Walker is likely to enjoy more quality looks while playing alongside Tatum and Hayward, enabling him to pay out as a -120 bet to average more than 22.5 points per game.
Teaming up with Tatum and Hayward should also benefit Walker is his bid to surpass his projected assist per game total of 6.0. The former UConn star averaged 5.9 assists per game last season, marking his best number since setting a career-high with 6.1 assists per game back in 2013/2014.
Career Year on the Horizon?
Walker piled up the NBA’s 20th-ranked assist total despite laboring on a Hornets offense that ranked 19th in the league last season, and while playing alongside just one regular, Jeremy Lamb, who averaged over 10.1 points per game last season.
Kemba on his role: “I’m loving it, not having not do so much all the time. Hopefully my usage rate might be going down a little bit.”
You really want your usage rate to go down?
“I mean… yes.”
— John Karalis 🇬🇷 (@RedsArmy_John) October 14, 2019
The combination of playing alongside more highly skilled teammates while not feeling the pressure, from both fans and opposing defenses, of singlehandedly carrying the load every night bodes well for Walker, and should enable him to approach career highs in both points and assists per game.
Picks: OVER 22.5 points per game (-120); OVER 6.0 assists per game (-120)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.