In the end, the predicted draft day slide of UConn's Kemba Walker ended up being overhyped as the point guard was selected right around where most people originally expected. The Charlotte Bobcats pulled the trigger on him with the 9th overall pick and bring Walker into a situation where he should have the chance to immediately challenge for a starting role and a help a team that was only a few games out of the playoffs last season get over the hump.
When asked about the prospect of playing in Charlotte and what he could bring to the team, Walker commented "it is a good situation for me to come into. I am just going to compete and bring my winning attitude to the organization. I really can't wait to just get out there and get to work, it is exciting."
Considering the type of season Walker put together for the Huskies last year, he had some mixed emotions about having to wait until being the 9th player selected. "I have nothing but mad respect for all of the players taken in front of me. They are all great basketball players, but I am going to be coming out with a huge chip on my shoulder and looking to prove to all of those teams that passed on me that they made a mistake."
There were rumors swirlingg on draft day that Walker could fall out of the lottery because of concern over his knee, yet he emphasized that he was both healthy and ignored the pre-draft speculation about where he could end up. "My knee feels great and honestly I told my agent the past few weeks not to tell me anything. I didn't want to get caught up in the speculation and wanted to be surprised about where I ended up and now things have worked out great."
Considering how open the final few seeds in the Eastern Conference should be, there is no reason Walker can't help bring the Bobcats back to the playoffs. It also doesn't hurt to have Michael Jordan around the building as the team's majority owner.
Forget all those rumors that were being floated earlier on Thursday about former UConn point guard Kemba Walker sliding toward the middle of the 2011 NBA Draft. Walker, a Bronx native, was snapped up at No. 9 by Michael Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bobcats have never been sold on D.J. Augustin. Walker is a warrior and a winner, and Michael Jordan loves that. The Bobcats are getting a lot tougher in this draft, bringing in a really nice balance of defense and scoring. This is a really good pick for Charlotte.
Walker averaged 23.5 points and 4.5 assists per game in 2010-2011 while leading Connecticut on an unexpected run to a national championship.
It was only a few months ago that Kemba Walker put the Connecticut Huskies on his back and carried them to an improbable Big East Tournament victory and then an even more improbable NCAA Championship. The Bronx native is considered one of the top prospects in tonight's NBA Draft but where he could end up is still a major question mark. It remains to be seen whether Walker can transition into a pure NBA point guard, or will end being more a combo guard. The situation he ends up in, could go a long way to determining his success. Let's hope Walker can succeed at the next level, where other New York City point guards like Sebastian Telfair and Omar Cook have failed.
Walker was originally rumored to be coveted by the Toronto Raptors with the 5th pick or the Sacramento Kings with the 7th pick. However, there is talk that their interest level has cooled in him and he could slide down to either the Charlotte Bobcats at 9 or even the Utah Jazz at 12, who had some initial interest in him with the 3rd overall pick but might look to Jimmer Fredette if he is still on the board. You have to wonder if Walker gets down to 12, if the New York Knicks might get a little antsy and think about moving up ahead of the Indiana Pacers at number 15 (who also have interest in Walker) for the hometown kid.
Here is a where a collection of recent mock drafts have Walker ending up --
Rotoworld - Toronto
ESPN (Ford) - Sacramento
NBA Draft.Net - Indiana
Hoops Hype - Indiana
SI (Amick) - Toronto
In their recent draft preview, Grantland gave a floor and ceiling comparison to each of the top prospects. Walker's ceiling was "the new Raymond Felton" and his floor was "Jonny Flynn." Personally, I think Walker's ceiling is higher than an improved version of Felton because of his ability to score. On the other end, it is too early to write the book on Flynn because he has been in such a bad situation out in Minnesota. Unfortunately, Walker could be walking into a similarly difficult situation if he ends up in Toronto or Sacramento.
SB Nation New York will be in attendance at Walker's draft party in New York City tonight hosted by DJ Skee and Skee Sports, so check back for reaction to where he ends up and follow coverage of Walker's night and the rest of the NBA Draft on Twitter at @SBNationNY @TurnOnTheJets @KembaWalker and @DJSkee.