Tag: Kemba Walker

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

Hornets’ coach says rookie Frank Kaminsky needs to add strength


In the college game, guys can get away with bulk instead of strength, and just being smart and a little quick can get a guy space. Then they get to the NBA, and it takes strength not bulk, and everybody is quick

So when you ask Hornets’ coach Steve Clifford about rookie Frank Kaminsky and what he needs to do to earn a steady stream of minutes, the leap in conditioning and strength is what comes up. And the Charlotte Observer did ask him.

Just strength. And obviously him adjusting to the NBA game. But he’s a quick learner and a good worker. He’ll pick things up quickly. That applies to both ends of the floor. He’s so good off the dribble that he would beat guys but be pushed off (his lane to the rim) a little bit. So a lot of times, where in college he got to the basket, he was instead taking 8-to-10 footers. As he gets stronger, he’ll be at the basket again.

There’s an adjustment for every rookie coming into the NBA — suddenly everyone is long and strong — but at Summer League Kaminsky showed the skills that should have him fit quickly into the NBA. He looked like a player who may start at the four as a rookie and be able to run the pick-and-pop with Kemba Walker (leaving the post open for Al Jefferson to do his thing). There was plenty to like, but some questions to answer (specifically on defense).

Kaminsky should turn into a solid pick for the Hornets at the four.


Hornets coach Steve Clifford plans to play Jeremy Lin and Kemba Walker together

Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers

Going into the season, the Hornets will be quite different from the disappointing group they put out last year. There are seven new players on the roster, including some key rotation players, and it’s going to be a lot of trial-and-error to see which ones play well together and which ones don’t. Head coach Steve Clifford is going to try out a lot of different combinations, including one he brought up in a new interview: a backcourt of Kemba Walker and new signee Jeremy Lin.

From Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:

Q: You’ve said you’re intrigued by the potential in playing point guards Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin together. Can you describe your vision for that combination?

It’s always good to have two pick-and-roll players on the floor. That way you can put pressure on the defense at one side, then switch it to the other. That makes more room to play similar to how Golden State does. You’ve got Steph (Curry) on one side, so defenses have to load up there, and then you’ve got Klay Thompson on the other with room to operate.

That’s what Kemba can do for Jeremy and Jeremy can do for Kemba.

It’s an interesting concept, and could work in small doses. Finding minutes for a two-point guard lineup will be tricky for Clifford, who will also be juggling playing time for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nicolas Batum and (if he cracks the rotation) Jeremy Lamb. He’ll have plenty of options to mix and match players in the backcourt and on the wing. Truth be told, both Walker and Lin are probably best suited to be sixth men, instant-offense types. Clifford compared the style of a Walker-Lin backcourt to the Warriors, which makes sense conceptually. But Thompson is a much better defender than both Walker and Lin, which makes it easier play two ball-dominant guards together. But it’s certainly worth trying this out. It’s hard to get a read on what the Hornets’ roster will be at this point, or how effective it can be. They have plenty of talented players, and it will be interesting to see how well they fit together.

Friday night video fun: Best blocks of 2014-15 season

Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Mike Scott
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It’s Friday night, you can either go to a bar and watch guys get rejected by the cute redhead and her friends, or you can just watch the best rejections of the last NBA season right here. Take your pick.

Nerlens Noel and DeAndre Jordan, of course, have a couple good ones, but my favorites belong to Kemba Walker and Blake Griffin.

Nicolas Batum responds to Toronto rumor in hysterical fashion

Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers

The report gained traction early Tuesday: Nicolas Batum is a free agent next summer and is already eyeing Toronto as a possible new destination. Batum is the former Blazer traded this summer to Charlotte, one of the lucky players about to hit the free agent market just as the system floods with money from the new television deal next summer. Toronto is a diverse, exciting city and an interesting team in the East…

Stop. Just stop. At least that’s what Batum took to Twitter to say Tuesday in classic fashion.

First things first, and with all due respect to Colin Jost and Michael Che, who certainly had their moments, I miss Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler on the Weekend Update desk.

As for Batum, I can tell you where he will land next summer — whichever team offers him the most money.

Charlotte can, in theory, do that as they have his Bird rights, but Batum isn’t going to get maxed out, so it’s a question of what teams are willing to offer. A lot of that could depend on how this season goes in Charlotte — Batum is a quality wing rotation player, a guy who can be a key contributor on the right team. With drive and kick guys like Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin on the Hornets’ roster, he should get the chance to show off his three-point stroke. He could be at the heart of a bubble playoff team in Charlotte.

However, trying to predict the chaos that will be free agency next summer is a fool’s errand. Batum could end up in Toronto, Charlotte, or 28 other destinations. He no doubt has his favorite spots and places he’d like to be — Toronto may well be one of them — but it all comes down to the money. It’s always the money.

Lance Stephenson: “Definitely it hurt me” that Michael Jordan traded him

Lance Stephenson

The Lance Stephenson era in Charlotte was a disaster. He went from shooting 49.1 percent his last season in Indiana to 37.6 percent in Charlotte. His defense wasn’t the same. As a good snapshot, his PER fell from 14.6 in Indy to a “he should be in the D-League” 8.8. He was being shopped by the middle of last season.

He landed this summer in a potentially great spot with the Los Angeles Clippers, but that doesn’t make getting traded by Michael Jordan any fun.

Stephenson talked about that and much more with Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling in a fantastic interview worth reading.

“Yeah, definitely it hurt me (getting traded by Jordan). I felt like I could’ve done more for the organization, I felt like we had pieces, and we just couldn’t get over that hump. There were a lot of injuries, a lot of things that just held us back from having a successful season….

“(Jordan) was communicating with me, telling me to keep a positive head even though I had a rough year. This was one of the roughest seasons—injuries, not getting my spot back. I felt like I could help this squad, but it just didn’t go the way I planned it to go. It’s a good learning experience and it really humbled me, because when you have high expectations, you feel like you’re that guy. It made me feel like, “Hey, you’ve got to keep working. Never stop grinding. Don’t take this stuff for granted because playing basketball is a blessing and you’re getting paid for it.”

Stephenson said that he and Kemba Walker didn’t blend well because they were too similar in style, both wanted the ball in their hands. That could be an issue with Chris Paul on the floor for the Clippers, but you could see Stephenson leading the second unit with the ball in his hands more.

The real question is off the court with Stephenson — how will he impact the chemistry of a team trying to get that right now after DeAndre Jordan’s free agency and what that brought to the surface. Stephenson continues to say his off-the-court issues are overblown.

“You can ask any of the guys that I played with. When I’m on the floor, I want to win. They know how I am. If I yell at them, it’s just because I want to win. They’re not looking at me like, “Lance is an assh–e.” Some people are intimidated to come up to me because of the way I play.”

I expect we will see a bounce-back season from Stephenson, he will be key to the Clippers’ improved bench. And if he gets the chance to blow in LeBron James’ ear in the playoffs again, that would mean the Clippers are in the Finals, and they will be good with it.