It was a fair question when Kemba Walker joined the Celtics: After years of being "the guy" in Charlotte, how would the All-Star guard handle carrying a lighter load on a deep Boston team?
Walker put the kibosh on those concerns by embracing his role as a "team-first" point guard in Boston alongside promising young wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. But he actually went too far the other way, to the point where he was passing up open shots.
Enter Gordon Hayward, who encouraged Walker to unleash the scoring prowess that helped him average 25.6 points per game in his final season with the Hornets.
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"He was always coming up to me, telling me that they (the Celtics) want me to be more aggressive—they can tell when I'm not," Walker told Bleacher Report's Yaron Weitzman in a recent interview.
"He made me feel comfortable, which I really appreciated, especially early in the year. Just letting me know that nobody is going to say anything, and nobody is going to be mad at me for shooting [certain] shots."
Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzulla led the charge in urging Walker to shoot more. But Hayward assured Walker that the players had his back, too, which was instrumental in the veteran gaining confidence with his new team.
The results showed on the court, too: Walker increased both his field goal attempts (from 16.7 per game in November to 17.4 in December) and scoring average (21.2 points per game in November; 23.2 in December) to help the Celtics go 10-3 during the month of December.
A knee injury limited Walker's effectiveness as the season progressed further, but it appears he's fully healthy entering the NBA restart in Orlando later this month. If the 30-year-old continues to be aggressive on offense, the C's could be a serious problem for opponents in the bubble.