By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics have issues this season. Many of them. One of the most glaring and obvious is Kemba Walker’s struggles since his return in mid-January.READ MORE: 34-Year-Old Man Dies After Hit-And-Run In Bridgewater
After missing the start of the season as his left knee recovered from stem cell injections to help nine years of wear and tear, Walker has not looked like his usual self. He lacks that quickness that allowed him to beat defenders to the rim, and he has no bounce when he does get to the basket. It’s pretty problematic for an undersized guard when he takes on opposing bigs.
It’s led to a lot of rejection for Walker. He had four of his 12 shots blocked during Tuesday night’s loss in Utah, including one at the three-point line. Since his return, 18 of Walker’s 152 shot attempts have been turned away.
And those rejections are really messing with his mind. Walker missed all six of his shots from inside the key — two of which were blocked — in an abysmal 4-for-20 showing against the Suns. He’s hitting just 38 percent of his two-point attempts, and just 34 percent of his shots since returning — the lowest shooting percentage of his career.
Walker is far from the only reason for this, but the Celtics are 3-7 in his 10 games played this season. Following Tuesday night’s disappointing defeat in Utah, head coach Brad Stevens said the team has to do a better job at setting up Walker for success.READ MORE: Franklin Man Allegedly Driving 142 MPH Arrested In New Hampshire
“We didn’t start the year with Kemba’s set of actions in… I think we need to look at better ways as a staff to help him,” said Stevens. “We’ll keep going because I thought he struggled to shoot it in the last two games, but he’s doing a lot of other things.”
Walker did dish out seven assists against the Jazz, which is his season-high thus far. But his shooting woes have not led to Walker putting up less shots, as he averaged over 17 attempts in his four appearances on Boston’s five-game road trip. Shooters shoot, but until he figures things out, he’d be better served as a facilitator.
Unfortunately for Boston, they don’t have a clear third option behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown at the moment. It’s a role Walker was supposed to fill, but his struggles are bringing the team down. It’s forced Stevens to turn to players like Daniel Theis and Grant Williams to do more on offense, and those results have been mixed at best. Walker’s misses down low are also leading to transition opportunities for the opposition, which is further straining Boston’s lackluster defense.
Kemba is a 10-year vet who knows how to score. At the moment, his old moves aren’t there for him. Like a pitcher who has lost a few miles per hour on his fastball, he’s got to figure out other ways to be effective. If his knees are really shot, then he’s got to evolve to make an impact in the back nine of his career.
“He’s a huge part of us if we’re going to be what we want to be,” Stevens said Tuesday. “I really believe he will be that guy.”MORE NEWS: 800 Nurses At St. Vincent Hospital In Worcester Preparing To Strike
The Celtics have a lot of issues they need to work out. But the team needs Walker to “be that guy” in the very near future if they want any shot to be a competitive team this season.