Tag: Kemba Walker

Kyle Korver, Mike Muscala, Al Horford

PBT’s Weekly NBA Power Rankings: No. 1 vs. No. 2 this week… and No. 3.


There are some real tests for the top-ranked Hawks this week against the No. 2 Grizzlies and the No. 3 Warriors. Down on the bottom of the scale, while the Timberwolves remain there the return of Ricky Rubio this week should hang that soon.

source:  1. Hawks (40-8, Last Week No. 1). There’s a lot of buzz around Friday night’s Hawks showdown with the Warriors, a potential Finals matchup of the two best teams from the first half of the season. But the entire week is tough for Atlanta — New Orleans and Washington Monday then Wednesday, then Memphis looms on Sunday. If Hawks winning streak reaches 20 on Monday, only fifth NBA team to do that.

source:  2. Grizzlies (35-12, LW 4). They are 10-2 in their last dozen games, which is not so coincidentally when Zach Randolph returned and started putting up his usual double-doubles nightly. I’ve got a feeling this is the team that snaps the Hawks winning streak, Memphis has been playing great defense during their streak.

source:  3. Warriors (37-8, LW 2). They lost to the Bulls and Jazz last week, but that’s just a blip. Still, David Lee at the five for stretches and more Leandro Barbosa are not my favorite things to see. Did we mention the big showdown with Atlanta on Friday night?I kno

source:  4. Clippers (33-15, LW 5). They had their six game win streak snapped in New Orleans, then responded on Saturday with maybe best game of season vs. Spurs. They Clippers have done it all with offense, scoring 113.9 points per 100 possessions in last eight games, best in NBA in that stretch. Defense 17th in league in that same time frame.

source:  5. Spurs (30-18, LW 3). An ugly home loss to the Clippers was another sign that the bench play of the Spurs is not what it was during their run last season, with Boris Diaw not looking the same and Manu Ginobili in a slump. That would be an issue if it continues into the playoffs.

source:  6. Rockets (33-15, LW 6). The Rockets are 6.7 points per 100 possessions better when Dwight Howard is on the court and now they will be without him for weeks with a knee injury. They are currently the five seed in the West (although they would have home court over four seed Portland) but this is the kind of thing that could see them slide down the seedings and make the playoffs that much tougher.

source:  7. Cavaliers (29-20 LW 11). They have won 10 games in a row, thanks in part to Kyrie Irving just going off when LeBron James was out. Still, they watched Andrew Wiggins drop 33 on them last week and you have to think the GMs of this team — LeBron and David Griffin — have to have a knot in their stomach about the long-term impact of the Kevin Love trade.

source:  8. Mavericks (32-17, LW 7). Rajon Rondo is out for at least a week with a orbital bone fracture in his face. When he is on the court the Dallas defense improves by 5.5 points per 100 possessions, the problem is the offense dips by 6.7 per 100. They need Rondo to find an offensive groove with this team by the playoffs.

source:  9. Suns (28-21, LW 10). A lot of people predicted the Suns would set during a tough run of eight games they are in the midst of, however they are 3-3 so far and are almost through the tough patch (only Memphis and Portland remain). They have a two game lead on the Pelicans and a four game lead over Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot and will be tough to catch.

source:  10. Trail Blazers (32-16. Last Week No. 8). Damian Lillard did get screwed out of not being an All-Star, but he didn’t unleash that anger on the Hawks last weekend. Will he in a tough stretch of games this week that include the Suns, Mavericks and Rockets?

source:  11. Raptors (33-15, LW 13). Is it possible to win six games in a row and not look great doing it? The Raptors have their wins but didn’t blow our doors off beating the Wizards or Nets. In their last 10 games the Raptors have the fifth best offense in the NBA but still the 21st ranked defense. That end of the court is still an issue.

source:  12. Bulls (30-19, LW 9). They are bucking for the title of most inconsistent team in the NBA — they beat the Warriors then turn around and fall to the Lakers. Even within games their play is erratic. I keep saying in radio interviews on paper the Bulls are the best team in the East but if they can’t put the pieces together it’s moot (and Tom Thibodeau may take the fall for that).

source:  13 Wizards (31-17, LW 12). Another team that, like the Bulls, looks good on paper and tantalizes you with stretches of impressive play, followed by just some terrible losses. They have a good measuring stick game Wednesday vs. Atlanta, but the question is can they sustain it after that?

source:  14. Pelicans (25-22, LW 14). Coach Monty Williams’ seat is getting warm in New Orleans and it’s largely due to the fact a team with Anthony Davis and Omer Asik on the back line is still 23rd in the NBA in defense. That end of the court is why the Pelicans are so up and down. (This offseason, the Big Easy would be an interesting landing spot for Tom Thibodeau if he’s out in Chicago.)

source:  15. Thunder (23-24, LW 15). Fans may not have hit the panic button yet in OKC but they sure have at least figured out where it is. The one good thing in OKC favor is a heavy home schedule the rest of the way but four games is going to be a lot to make up on a Phoenix team that will not roll over, the Thunder need to string together a healthy winning streak fast.

source:  16. Bucks (25-22, LW 18). They picked up a quality win over Portland last week and we’re going to get to see a lot of Giannis Antetokounmpo All-Star weekend — things continue to look up for the Bucks. Clipper fans are likely watching this Jared Dudley play and say “where was this guy when we had him?”

source:  17. Hornets (20-27, LW 16). It’s impressive that the Hornets have gone 4-1 without Kemba Walker so far, giving hope that they can hold on to the eight seed in the East until the star point guard returns. The Bobcats offense has taken the expected dive without walker but they are defending well again and that can keep them in the playoffs.

source:  18. Heat (21-26, LW 17). In his last five games Heat fan favorite Hassan Whiteside has averaged 15.2 points shooting 61.8 percent plus pulling down 12.8 rebounds. More than the numbers, when he is on the court the Heat are just more active and energetic on defense with deflections and blocked shots. .

source:  19. Jazz (17-30, LW 20). They beat the Warriors on Friday with maybe their best game of the season, showing both the potential and development of this team. Can they replicate that in a tough stretch this eek against Portland, Memphis and Phoenix?

source:  20. Pistons (18-30, LW 19). . Pistons fans got to boo Josh Smith and watch him struggle and his Rockets lose. That was cathartic. But then this same Pistons team got manhandled by the Sixers last week, so everything is not right yet. Just less bad.

source:  21. Nets (18-28, LW 21). They have dropped four in a row and 12 of their last 14 games, they have slid out of the playoffs, and the talk is now should they buy out Kevin Garnett and let him play for a contender. The front office is more focused on moving players like Brook Lopez or Joe Johnson to clean up the books before a sale of the team than than they are Garnett’s future.

source:  22. Nuggets (19-29, LW 22). JaVale McGee is back on the court and that ups the entertainment value of the league right away. This is another team where the most interesting story the next few weeks will be if Wilson Chandler gets traded, not anything they do on the court.

source:  23. Celtics (16-30, LW 23). If I were going to bet on one team to make another deal before the trade deadline, Boston would be at the top of the list. They keep playing Tayshaun Prince minutes and that has to be to showcase him, not because they want to make a run at the eight see, right?

source:  24. Pacers (17-32, LW 22). The Pacers are just four games out of the playoffs, so in theory they could make a run at it, but they just lack the offense to get it done.

source:  25. Kings (17-29, LW 25). DeMarcus Cousins deserved to be an All-Star and was a great selection to fill in for Kobe Bryant on the roster. He’s the first Kings All-Star in more than a decade, when Peja Stojakovic and Brad Miller were on the squad together in 2004.

source:  26. Knicks (10-38, LW 27). The Knicks are playing better of late because their defense has been less bad (I don’t know that I’d say good) and Carmelo Anthony is doing things like putting up 31 points on the Lakers. What happens after the All-Star Game when ‘Melo shuts it down? That could get ugly.

source:  27. Magic (15-35, LW 26). No coach is on a hotter seat than Jacque Vaughn, who in his first year looked like he could get this team to play defense but has not any more. If they make a coaching change in season, it may come after they get back this week from a road trip that finishes against the Thunder and Spurs.

source:  28. 76ers (10-38, LW 29). If you’re into moral victories, the Sixers had one against the Hawks last week. Michael Carter-Williams had another triple double and, while I’m not sold he’s a star, should be a solid rotation guard in the league for a while.

source:  29. Lakers (13-34, LW 28). No Kobe Bryant or Nick Young and they played hard and found a way to beat the Bulls last week to end their losing streak. Still, the most interesting thing about this team the rest of the way is how Jordan Clarkson develops.

source:  30. Timberwolves (8-39, LW 30). Don’t expect them to stay on the bottom long, not with Ricky Rubio close to returning to the lineup (possibly Monday), along with Kevin Martin and Nicola Pekovic. Those three take Minnesota out of the pushover category and will get them a few wins, along with Andrew Wiggins’ improved play.

Hornets’ Kemba Walker has successful knee surgery, expected to miss a minimum of 6 weeks

New Orleans Pelicans v Charlotte Hornets
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Kemba Walker going down with a knee injury is a serious blow to the Hornets’ playoff chances, at least on the surface.

Walker’s been the team’s leading scorer this season with an 18.8 points per game average, and has often times carried more of his fair share of the burden while Lance Stephenson and Al Jefferson have both missed time due to injuries.

Charlotte is currently sitting at eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, and could slide a bit while Walker is sidelined. But he may be able to return in as little as six weeks.

From a Hornets team release:

Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker underwent successful surgery today to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. The procedure was completed by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Walker’s recovery time is expected to be a minimum of six weeks.

Walker is the Hornets’ leader in points (18.8), assists (5.2) and steals (1.4). Walker averaged 23.0 points on .429 shooting from the field (171-399), including .355 from beyond the three-point line (43-121) over his last 21 games played. He scored at least 28 points in six straight games from Jan. 3-14, the longest streak of his career and the second-longest streak in the NBA this season behind only Russell Westbrook’s nine straight games from Dec. 12-26. Walker scored 20 or more points in 14 of his last 21 games played.

The good news for the Hornets is that the teams chasing them for that final playoff spot are in worse shape than they are. The Pistons are likely done now that Brandon Jennings has been lost for the season due to injury, and Brooklyn is dealing with injuries of its own, while the team is working toward trading one or more of its stars before the mid-February deadline passes.

As long as the Hornets can somewhat maintain while Walker is sidelined, there should be enough there with a fully healthy squad to make a late-season run that will solidify a postseason spot.

Report: Pistons looking into Norris Cole trade

Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons

With Kemba Walker injured, the Hornets are reportedly exploring a trade for Norris Cole.

Charlotte might have competition.

The Pistons – whose starting point guard, Brandon Jennings, is also injured – are eying the Heat point guard, too.

Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

The Detroit Pistons are looking into the possibility of trading for Miami Heat point guard Norris Cole, league sources tell Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Miami has sent the word out that the 26-year-old defensive specialist can be had. There’s nothing imminent at this point and talks have been described as “exploratory,” a source said.

Stan Van Gundy said the Pistons will probably add a third point guard behind D.J. Augustin and Spencer Dinwiddie, but the president/coach also said he wouldn’t give up any future assets or draft picks for one.

Acquiring Cole would almost certainly require Detroit relinquishing something of long-term value. However, Cole could also give the Pistons returns beyond this season, so I’m not sure the strictness of Van Gundy’s self-imposed guideline.

Cole, 26, is averaging 6.2 points and 3.4 assists in 24.4 minutes per game. He’s quick and a solid defender, but his 3-point percentage has troublingly regressed to 24.2 percent after nearing league average the last two years.

He’ll be a free agent after the season, a restricted one if extended a qualifying offer. His qualifying offer will be $4,433,683 if he starts 18 more games or plays 1,011 more minutes this season – or $3,036,927 if he doesn’t.

Dwyane Wade’s injury could affect Miami’s willingness to deal Cole. If Wade misses time, the Heat will likely use Cole more often with Mario Chalmers or Shabazz Napier in two-point guard lineups. Plus, they might hesitate to trade a useful player to a team they’re in playoff competition with. That applies to both Detroit and Charlotte.

The Pistons and Heat have plenty of low-paid players to shuffle if they want to make a deal. But before the exact mechanics get worked out, Van Gundy has to decide whether he’s willing to give up something for help now.

Kemba Walker to have knee surgery; Hornets looking at trades for depth while he is out

Kemba Walker

The Charlotte Hornets are not going to be able to replace Kemba Walker. He has averaged 18.8 points and 5.2 assists a game for them this season, and when he is on the court their offense jumps 3.3 points per 100 possessions. Coach Steve Clifford recently called Walker the Bobcats best player.

But Charlotte is going to have to try to replace him.

As we said could be coming, Walker is going to need knee surgery, something first reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

The team has since confirmed the news.

This is a setback for Walker, who at age 24 was having the best, most efficient season of his career.

The good news for the Hornets — currently sitting as the eight seed in the East after winning 10 of 12 games — is they could have Walker back for the playoffs, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

That would have him back likely in the middle of March, a month before the playoffs start.

The problem is, even at the bottom of the lowly East playoff race, the Hornets can’t afford a big step back while Walker is out and still make the playoffs. Right now Brian Roberts is the next point guard on the depth chart, although what this really means is the ball in Lance Stephenson’s hands more. So the Hornets are looking at trades to bridge the gap until Walker is back.

The Nets and Hornets are also talking about a potential deal involving Stephenson for Joe Johnson and other players, which could provide some scoring and ball handling depth while Walker is out. However, the Hornets could pull back in their talks due to this injury.

Report: Kemba Walker could miss six weeks, Hornets teammates Marvin Williams and Bismack Biyombo also injured

San Antonio at Charlotte

Hornets point guard Kemba Walker has missed a few games with a sore knee, and the issue could require surgery.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

That’s a big injury, but Charlotte can overcome it if all everyone else remains healthy.

Or maybe if anyone stays healthy?

Come on!

After a slow start, the Hornets have finally climbed back into playoff position. They’re still just 17-26, but in the Eastern Conference, they’re rolling.

Or at least were.

This could put the brakes on a trade with the Nets, because despite all his problems, Lance Stephenson is a quality playmaker. He won’t replace Walker, who was getting All-Star consideration, but he can ease the burden on Brian Roberts.

Marvin Williams had already lost his starting job to Cody Zeller. Maybe rookie Noah Vonleh, who was behind due to his own injury, will join the rotation.

Bismack Biyombo played well while Al Jefferson was injured and remained in the starting lineup, albeit with far fewer minutes, once Jefferson returned. Jefferson will surely start again now, and Charlotte will need him to carry a bigger load.

Steve Clifford is a good coach, and there’s still talent left for him to work with. The Hornets have a chance to remain in the playoff race. Brooklyn is just a half game back, but after that, it’s the Pistons – who have their own injury issues with Brandon Jennings – and assortment of teams probably more interested in the draft than the postseason at this point. (Plus the Pacers, who I doubt have the juice to reach the playoffs, as hard as they try.)