On Friday morning, Thunder GM Sam Presti sent shockwaves around the league, making a trade that is rare for it being this early in the offseason. As many expected could happen, he sent Al Horford back to Boston in a package that would net OKC Kemba Walker and the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
This was a move that needed to be made by the Celtics. Walker didn't fare well on the court recently during his time with the team and he often was sidelined due to injury. This also saves Boston anywhere between $20 and $32 million long-term depending on how the Horford contract plays out.
Could Walker be the next Thunder reclamation project like Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Dennis Schroder and many other veterans before him?
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When you look at Walker's 2020-21 season, he had a pretty down year for his standards. He averaged just 19.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. The biggest issue is that he couldn't stay heathy, missing 43 regular season games and the playoffs with a knee injury.
However, if you look beyond last season, Walker is a solidified NBA All-Star. He made the All-Star team in four-straight seasons prior to his 2020-21 campaign and was one of the best point guards in the entire NBA. Even in his first year with the Celtics, he got the nod as one of the best players in the NBA making the All-Star team.
The season before that, with the Charlotte Hornets, he played all 82 games and averaged 25.6 points per contest, showing off his ability to be one of the most explosive scorers in the league and the durability to play a full season.
It's easy to have recency bias and only remember the rough ending to Walker's stint with the Celtics. However, looking at his entire body of work, he's still one of the best point guards in the entire NBA when healthy.
While his future in Oklahoma City is unclear, whether he will be part of the long-term plan or be flipped later, Kemba Walker could be the next veteran to get his career back on track with the Thunder.