One factor stands apart in the Kyrie Irving-Kemba Walker comparisons.
There have already been a slew of Kemba Walker-Kyrie Irving comparisons, and that won’t go away anytime soon. The basic stats for last season show Kemba to get the slight nod on minutes, points and free throw attempts, while Kyrie wins (slightly) on assists, rebounds and shooting accuracy. It gets real close on handles, with Irving coming out ahead, but once again, only slightly. They are both shifty as Hell.
It is the free throw attempts that separate the two stars somewhat – with Irving at 3.7 free throw attempts/game and Walker with 5.5 FTA’s. Kyrie avoids contact on his drives into the paint, while Walker absorbs the bumps and prods. But overall, on skills, these two guards are neck-and-neck. Take a quick look at Tomek Kordylewski’s video below, as well as Barb’s note about Timi and his job search.
This is amazing work as always by Tomek!!
(And he’s looking for a job – with his talent there has to be a team out there in need of a video guy like him!) https://t.co/kFJd5AdE6i
— Barb (@spozry_barb) June 30, 2019
— Celtics Nation (@CelticsNationCP) July 29, 2019
So what stands out in the Kyrie versus Kemba comparison? One thing does stand apart in this very close race, and that would be the two NBA Sportsmanship awards presented to Walker in consecutive years, 2017 and 2018. There is only one such award given out each year, so this DOES NOT mean Irving and Walker are miles apart when it comes to sportsmanship. It just means for those two seasons, Kemba outperformed every other NBA player in that category. He was outstanding. What is the award all about (per Wikipedia)?
The NBA Sportsmanship Award is an annual National Basketball Association (NBA) award given to a player who most “exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court with ethical behavior, fair play, and integrity.
“Ethical behavior, fair play and integrity”. These attributes can not be quantified, but they can be discerned over the course of a season. Hopefully, Kemba can employ those qualities to accomplish what the Celtics team generally failed to do last season – namely to play as a team and trust each other. This will be what Marcus Smart called a “do-over”. An over-achieving season would be welcome.
Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel, @_Celtics_Center and @ CausewayStreet