Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Kyrie Irving may have had the best handles in the NBA last season. Kemba Walker is very close. Expect more team play this season.

It wasn’t difficult to isolate Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum in the USAB scrimmage last night. So much of the action went through them in the Blue Team’s 97-78 victory. I covered Jayson’s great offensive game (17 points., 4 boards) in a previous article, but Kemba’s 12 points and four assists were also noteworthy.

Kyrie Irving displayed what might be the best handles in the NBA last season, but Walker is not far behind. He has great ball control while avoiding, and befuddling, defenders. He can stop on a dime, create space and get off a decent shot – much like Kyrie showed with the Celtics. And if last night was any indication, Kemba’s new teammates won’t become spectators watching him perform a magic act. They will become part of the act.

Tatum showed a bit of what he can do on offense when let loose, and we need to see more of that. But don’t expect Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward, or even Marcus Smart, to become bystanders. Walker is a willing distributor who will now have shooters to target. The fact that he is such a productive and versatile scorer will open up opportunities for his teammates. We will take the slight decline in ball handling for the pluses that Kemba brings from Charlotte. He is a true team player. His teammates need to follow his lead.

Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel and @_Celtics_Center

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2 Comments

Tom Lane August 10, 2019 at 6:10 pm

Brian FlemingAugust 10, 2019 at 12:14 PM
When I used to play street ball regularly, I used to go up against a taller guy who was a good defender. He was difficult to get by because he was three inches taller and had really long arms. I had all these great dribbling moves, but they were often ineffective against him and he would often talk trash to me along the lines of, “You going to dance all day or are you actually going to do something with the ball?” With Kyrie, all those dribbling moves are impressive, but if they’re not used to get by a defender consistently, they’re really not all that effective. North-south dribblers and ball movement is the more efficient way to play than watching someone like Kyrie pound the ball for an entire possession before taking some fall-away jumper. Kemba will be a better fit than Kyrie was in that area for sure.

REPLYDELETE

Tom LaneAugust 10, 2019 at 1:08 PM
On a few plays last night, Kemba got possession after a defensive stop and made the long pass to a teammate heading down court. We’ll see more of that. Tatum and Walker did some good stuff last night. Handles don’t mean much if their not used right.

Tom Lane August 11, 2019 at 12:39 pm

David AnthopoulosAugust 11, 2019 at 7:25 AM
And let’s see if the Milwaukee series was just Kyrie’s mind getting a head start to Brooklyn, or a sign that the league is starting to figure out how to handle that impressive but shot-clock-eating handle.

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