Celtics

Kemba Walker ready to adjust his role and share the scoring with his new Celtics teammates

Kemba Walker ready to adjust his role and share the scoring with his new Celtics teammates

Celtics point guard Kemba Walker admits that, in order for his new team to maximize its potential, he needs to alter his offensive approach. Fresh off inking his max contract, the eight-year veteran said he’s on board with deferring to the new talent that now surrounds him.

“[My role] does [need to change], and I’m looking forward to it,” Walker said on the latest Celtics Talk Podcast. "It’s something new. It’s not as big of a burden, I feel like, on my back. It’s like, I had to be perfect every night in Charlotte. Had to be. I had to have a great game, offensively, if not, it will be a struggle for us to win. Like I said, with the personnel, we have on this team and the way these guys can score, it’ll be different.”

The Celtics landed Walker on a four-year, $141 million deal. With the Hornets, Walker was forced to shoulder much of the scoring burden and sometimes even big outputs weren’t enough to will Charlotte to wins (Walker had seven games of 40-plus points last season and Charlotte lost six of them, the only win coming against Boston).

Walker ranked ninth in the NBA in usage rate last season at 30.8 percent. That was one spot ahead of ball-dominant Russell Westbrook and two spots ahead of Kawhi Leonard. Which is to say that Walker is used to finishing possessions but seems on board with giving it up more. Kyrie Irving ranked 17th in the NBA in usage at 28.6 last year.

Walker cited young players Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as reasons he wanted to come to Boston and he’s eager to use his talents to get them scoring opportunities. A healthier Gordon Hayward is going to demand more possessions as well and the team can lean on his ball-handling skills, especially when Walker isn’t on the court.

Walker said he’s excited about the potential. 

"I think there will be a lot of space. I’m a willing passer as well. I’m very unselfish,” said Walker. "I love to score, don’t get it twisted. Whenever I have an opportunity to score, I’m going to score. But, when I draw defenders and see open guys, I’m going to get rid of that thing. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to kinda changing my game as well, just giving the ball up a lot more.”

Coming off a season in which Irving’s missteps as a leader contributed to friction with younger players, Walker’s arrival begs the question of whether he can maximize their talents. While he’s expressed a desire to help those players grow — while also suggesting that he yearns to learn from them and their playoff experiences -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge remains staunch that Walker simply needs to be the best version of himself.

"I don't really look for other people to draw out anything from anybody,” said Ainge. "I expect him to be at his best, that's all. Work hard and be who he is. He doesn't have to try to draw anything out from any of the other guys...It's not anybody's responsibility to draw the best out in every other player.”

Added Ainge: "I see Kemba as a good fit with anybody. He's a really good player. He's smart and is experienced and wants to win. He's accomplished a lot of things individually and he just really hasn't been able to accomplish the team goals since winning the national championship in college. But I think that's what he is hoping for. He's at the stage of his life where that's all that matters.”

Walker landed on the All-NBA third team this past season. He averaged a career-best 25.6 points per game but has shot just 41.8 percent from the floor from his career and 35.7 percent beyond the arc. The Celtics are hoping that with more skill around him, Walker can ratchet up his overall efficiency. He averaged 5.9 assists per game last season and that number could spike if Tatum, Brown, and Hayward elevate their offensive output this season.

It is, of course, easier to say you want to morph your game in July than it is to actually do it on the court in October. But Walker has repeatedly stressed a desire to win after limited playoff exposure in Charlotte. Given some of the losses on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the frontcourt, it’s imperative that the Celtics play with high efficiency on the offensive end. Walker’s ability to maximize opportunities for himself and his teammates could be key in Boston’s success in the 2019-20 season.

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Celtics' Kemba Walker has extremely relatable take on driving in Boston

Celtics' Kemba Walker has extremely relatable take on driving in Boston

Kemba Walker is still adjusting to life as a Boston Celtic, maybe more so off the court than on it.

During the Celtics' annual Shamrock Foundation Tip-Off Gala on Thursday, Walker was asked about driving in Boston. He responded with possibly the most relatable quote of all time to all of us regular folk who have trouble driving in the city.

Don't worry, Kemba. You're not alone.

Despite putting up with the troubles up commuting in and out of Boston, Walker has been all smiles since coming to his new city over the summer. The Celtics hope the positive vibes that have surrounded the team since Walker came to town will last throughout the 2019-20 season, which begins Oct. 23 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Kemba Walker reveals his real height at Celtics Shamrock Gala

Kemba Walker reveals his real height at Celtics Shamrock Gala

Kemba Walker had been listed at 6-1 his entire NBA career, but on Thursday night he revealed what his real height is at the Celtics' Shamrock Gala. 

“My real height came out a few weeks ago and I’m 5-11,” Walker said at the event. 

The NBA set forth an initiative to get every player's actual height recorded so there wasn't any type of false information floating around. The only questionable part of it all is that every player's new measured height is without shoes, and NBA games are played with shoes if you haven't noticed. 

Either way, this confirms what many have already believed about Walker's height. As great a scorer and competitor he is, his lack of size poses questions regarding his ability to be the go-to option on offense in the biggest moments. Isaiah Thomas was terrific in every way offensively, but there was only so much he could do when a defense honed in on him during the playoffs. 

Two-way wings are typically the players that lead teams to championships, so if Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward or Jaylen Brown can turn into the No. 1 option for the Celtics, Walker poses as the perfect running mate to give defenses fits. Until then, Boston will have to lean on him as they did with Thomas, but it's clear this time has far more upside than the Thomas-led Celtics ever did. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.