The Charlotte Bobcats aren’t the first team you think of when you say “offensive explosion”. Naturally, they’re not the first team you think of when you start picking sleepers for fantasy basketball, either. The 2012-13 season has a chance to change that line of thinking.
Charlotte as a whole may not suddenly evolve into an offensive juggernaut, but I do believe there’s an inkling of a chance that point guard Kemba Walker starts to develop into the player the Bobcats drafted him to be in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. At least in the fantasy realm, anyways.
The fact is, with point guards in fantasy basketball, a giant portion of the fantasy value comes straight out of simply being on the floor. And to start 2012-13, at least, Walker looks to be “the guy”.
And he really should be, as Ramon Sessions and Scoop Jardine are the only other point guards on the roster and D.J. Augustin is now out of the picture. I’m sure there’s a chance Sessions’ balance cuts into an under-performing Walker’s court time at some point, but if we’re going off of potential, this is Walker’s job to lose, and he should kick off the season with borderline starter minutes.
In his rookie season last year, Walker averaging just over 27 minutes per game and he put up 12.1 points, 4.4 assists. 3.5 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game. Bump his minutes up to even just 30 per game, and you’re looking at over 13 points, 5 assists, four rebounds, and over a steal per game. And that’s not even factoring in his average of one three-pointer made per game, as well as nearly 79% from the line and over 30% from downtown.
His percentages were shaky as a rookie. He was awful overall at just 36.6% (even Jimmer Fredette shot better), and he barely hit over 30% of his three balls. But rookie guards often do struggle, so there’s still hope here. And as I said, with an increase in minutes comes more control of the offense, more balance with his passing and decision-making, and potentially better results with more confidence.
The kicker is how Walker was already performing as a starter as a rook. When he got the nod, Walker averaged 14.7 points, 4.9 assists, five rebounds, one steal, while shooting over 34% from deep. Clearly when this guy gets his name called, he responds.
As long as Walker gets a full backing and is playing in upwards of 33-35 minutes as the starter, I think the low stat line we can expect to see is what he did last year as a rookie. The high could be anywhere from 16-17 points, 6-7 assists, 4-5 rebounds and 35+ percentage beyond the arc. I think he’s still going to struggle with his overall shooting percentage, defense, and turnovers, but these are the lumps you’ll have to take with a second-year guy on a growing, young roster.