By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Tuesday night’s loss to the Utah Jazz was yet another rough outing for Kemba Walker. The Celtics’ 30 year old point guard shot 2-of-12 from the floor, the fourth time in the last five games he’s shot under 34 percent.
Despite the recent struggles, Celtics GM Danny Ainge isn’t worried about the team’s starting point guard. Speaking with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich Thursday morning, Ainge put Walker’s cold stretch into perspective.
“I’m not concerned,” He told T&R. “I mean, obviously, we would like for him to be playing better and making more shots. But even really good – the best players in the league go through stretches where they struggle to make shots.”
Walker missed the beginning of the 2021 season as he continued to rehab a knee injury he suffered last year before the shutdown. The Celtics are still managing him carefully, most notably by not having him play both games in back-to-backs.
“I feel like the best news is that Kemba has just been healthy and hasn’t regressed. So that’s the most positive,” Ainge noted.
Since his season debut in mid-January, Walker has shot 34.2 percent from the field in 10 games. That’s well below both last year’s 42.5 field goal percentage, and his career number of 41.8 percent. He’s averaging 15 points and 4.3 assists per game.
Even with the scoring dip, Ainge isn’t discouraged by the erratic shooting. “He looks good physically,” he remarked. “I like what I see in Kemba’s movement, I think it’s better than it was when he was in the bubble and in the playoffs last year. I think he’s worked hard to get the strength back in his knee.”
With such little time to practice this year due to COVID protocols and the condensed schedule, it has been a bit of a shotgun start for Walker, with Ainge mentioning, “we’re living in with very little practice and time to really get cohesive.” He added that as the season goes on, he expects Walker’s role in the offense to become more solidified, which will help him be a more consistent shooter.
“There’s such a focus on trying to shut him down and we just need to do a better job of getting him better shots, and I think that he is going through a funk,” Ainge said. “He’s just in a little bit of a shooting slump. I’m not worried about that, though.”
Walker and the Celtics return to action Thursday night, hosting the Raptors at TD Garden. That game tips off at 7:30 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 7:00 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.