2021-22 Fantasy Basketball: Kemba Walker

by Yeon Lee
2021-22 Fantasy Basketball Drop List Week 19

The New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau unexpectedly announced that Walker is out of rotation on November 30th, 2021. It wasn’t an inscrutable decision since he had not been much productive as The Knicks wanted him to be after they signed him this offseason.

However, considering Kemba’s name value, history, and unchallenging competitors such as Immanuel Quickley, Derrick Rose, and Alec Burks, it came as a surprise to us.

Fortunately, he’s now back into the rotation and rewarded the patient Fantasy owners with the better performance in the last two games. Kemba Walker has scored 50 points in the Knicks last two games!

I will explain why he fell out of the rotation and if he will hold the starting gig for the rest of the season.

All data comes from NBA.com and fivethirtyeight.com.

2021-22 Fantasy Basketball: Kemba Walker

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There Is A Reason Why Kemba Was Out Of Rotation

If you are not familiar with RAPTOR, you may want to read this. In Layman’s terms, RAPTOR is the advanced metric made by Fivethirtyeight.com based on margin +/- to evaluate the player’s performance. The above chart tells us Kemba Walker has been a replacement-level player so far.

You can see Derick Rose has been outperforming all the competitors by far. It gives us a reason why Tim Tibeadou chose Rose over Quickley after Kemba was removed from the rotation.

If They Knew How To Shoot..

Kemba WalkerFGMFGAFG%3PM3PA3P%
Pullup Jump shot317740.3205139.2
Jump Shot246139.3235541.8
Driving Layup Shot122744.4000
Driving Floating Jump Shot81650000
Step Back Jump shot51338.52540
Driving Finger Roll Layup Shot4666.7000
Layup Shot1425000
Derrick RoseFGMFGAFG%3PM3PA3P%
Jump Shot4413732.13810237.3
Driving Layup Shot4711540.9000
Pullup Jump shot5810256.9122352.2
Driving Floating Jump Shot478952.8000
Floating Jump shot203754.1000
Step Back Jump shot102441.7010
Running Layup Shot101662.5000
Driving Finger Roll Layup Shot101566.7000
Driving Floating Bank Jump Shot101471.4000
Alec BurksFGMFGAFG%3PM3PA3P%
Jump Shot4211038.2409840.8
Pullup Jump shot245742.1163743.2
Driving Finger Roll Layup Shot61442.9000
Driving Layup Shot31421.4000
Driving Floating Bank Jump Shot41136.4000
Driving Floating Jump Shot41040000
Step Back Jump shot310301714.3

The above chart shows the breakdown of each player’s performance. As you can see, Kemba Walker’s game is mostly based on jump shots. Even though he has a smaller sample size, his lack of rim attack limited The Knicks’ offensive half-court set.

In the contrast, Derrick Rose has attempted more layups with relatively various repertoire such as floater. However, his jump shots are no better than Kemba Walker except for pull-up shots. The layup field goal percentage is also very low.

The league average field goal percentage less than 5 ft for the guard is 58%. Now you get the idea why Derrick Rose didn’t completely take over Kemba Walker’s spot.

Immanuel Quickley couldn’t provide anything special to distinguish himself from the competitors.

They Need To Work On Two Things: Passing and Shooting

PLAYERTEAMMINPASSES MADEPASSES RECEIVEDASTSECONDARY ASTPOTENTIAL ASTAST PTS CREATEDAST ADJAST TO PASS%AST TO PASS% ADJUsage
Kemba WalkerNYK25.24346.33.10.65.88.23.97.19.221.8
Derrick RoseNYK24.539.845.340.37.810.14.61011.624
Alec BurksNYK26.730.229.62.20.24.25.62.67.28.716.4
RJ BarrettNYK31.424.229.42.10.245.22.48.610.122.4
Evan FournierNYK28.62328.21.70.53.34.42.47.410.321.4
Immanuel QuickleyNYK21.822.5282.60.14.36.42.911.312.719.3
Miles McBrideNYK6.98.39.21.20.31.93.61.714.520.520.8
Quentin GrimesNYK8.55.66.40.40.10.610.67.710.319.3

We now know all the point guards in Knicks uniforms are terrible at shooting. How about passing skills?

Usually, there’s one leading guy on the team who has more than 30% usage. It is understandable no one has above 30% usage in Knicks since they are all mediocre, but seven players with 20% usage are just creating more problems.

What’s worse is that no one creates anything productive with their passing skills except for Derrick Rose. Kemba Walker’s passing outcome is below average considering his jump shots are inefficient.

It is somewhat related to the other Knicks players in slumps. Evan Fournier is a volume shooter. However, he hasn’t been given enough possession to show his 100%.

Conclusion: Kemba Is Not A Guaranteed Starter

The bottom line is simple. No one stands out. If anything, Derrick Rose is arguably the best choice. However, since his jump shot is around 30%, you cannot completely rely on him.

This is why Kemba Walker came back. Even though Kemba is also a terrible shooter, he is at least better at passing than the other mediocre competitors.

If you own Kemba Walker, it’s likely his playing time would be inconsistent unless he drastically improves himself. The Knicks’ unorganized backcourt issue would rotate all the mediocre players whenever they are hot.

Kemba hasn’t brought anything to appeal as a starter. It depends on the depth of waiver in your league, but I would consider dropping or trading him for hot players.


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