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.
I had the chance to speak with Walker last night at his draft party at Greenhouse in New York City hosted by DJ Skee and Skee Sports. The party was well-attended by current NBA players, including Chris Paul (in a Yankees hat, good sign for our Knicks?), Hakim Warrick, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Ryan Hollins, and Brandon Jennings.
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.