Kemba Walker is the latest Celtic to show up on Sports Illustrated's "Top 100 NBA Players of 2020" list.
Marcus Smart (No. 82), Jaylen Brown (No. 68), Gordon Hayward (No. 59), and Jayson Tatum (No. 35) each preceded the C's new point guard on the annual rankings. On Wednesday, SI rolled out rankings 20 to 11 with Walker landing in the No. 20 spot.
The author of the SI piece, Rob Mahoney, particularly praised Walker for mastering the pick-and-roll but knocked the 29-year-old for his 6-foot-1 stature.
Here's more of what Mahoney had to say:
"For Walker, that could be as simple as hesitating in the space behind the screen, forcing more conservative defenses into a gut check. It could be the way he chooses to snake through a pick-and-roll rather than attempt a straight-line drive, extending his stay in the areas of the floor most sensitive to a team defense. Or it might even start earlier: before a screen is ever set, where Walker uses a subtle step to set up his defender to be creamed. Opponents have to respect the possibility that Walker might pull up for a three at any time. That makes him a risk from about 25 feet in, which has a way of making opponents antsy before Walker ever makes his move.
"The only real downsides with Walker can be pegged to his size. Coaches are generally pleased with the way he goes about his work on defense, but any player this small (Walker is a listed 6’1’’, which feels somewhat generous) will give up marginal advantages over the course of the game. It’s just easier for opponents to see over—and shoot over—the top of him. Walker gets some of those points back by positioning himself well and drawing a ton of offensive fouls, but on a certain level he will always be an undersized guard in a league oriented around verticality. Walker was blocked more than any player in the league last season. There will be passes around bigger, longer defenders that he can’t quite manage. What makes Walker a star is that he just keeps coming anyway, once more unto the breach."
Walker has been putting that talent on display this summer in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, but Celtics fans undoubtedly can't wait to see their new star get it done in the Green and White.
For what it's worth, ex-Celtics Al Horford and Kyrie Irving were ranked No. 18 and No. 15 respectively.
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